Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Signs Heroin Legislation

By John Lavitt 09/03/14

The new law will expand heroin awareness and prevention efforts.

Wiki Commons

In an about-face from previous program cuts, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed new legislation in August to fight heroin use in communities across the state.

Expanding the scope of a special task force created last year to study heroin use in Illinois, Gov. Quinn gave the task force the power to make recommendations to increase awareness through proactive educational efforts. The focus of the anti-heroin efforts in Illinois is prevention through education.

“Heroin is a deadly substance that destroys lives," the governor explained. "The health and safety of all residents across the state must be a priority. This legislation will help ensure we have the tools to fight heroin use across Illinois.”

The new legislation expands the age range to be studied by the Young Adult Heroin Use Task Force to students in grades six through 12. Gov. Quinn first signed legislation to create the Young Adult Heroin Use Task Force to address the growing problem of heroin use in Illinois high schools in August 2013. The new law expands the study to middle-school students in light of findings by the task force that heroin affects children as young as 11.

Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe, head of the leading drug and alcohol treatment and prevention advocacy group in Illinois, welcomed the new law. At the same time, however, she warned that budget cuts over the last five years had worsened the Illinois heroin crisis. Howe noted that between 2009 and 2014, Quinn had cut $52 million, or 44% in state funding for addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

“We thank Governor Quinn for signing the new youth heroin research law because more data will strengthen our drug prevention efforts. However, until recently, in the midst of an escalating epidemic," Howe said. "State funding for addiction prevention and treatment has been consistently reduced, and these cuts have worsened the problem."

"Services for those struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs were cut by $45 million," Howe continued. "While services, designed to prevent the onset of alcohol and drugs, including heroin, primary alcohol and drug prevention was slashed by $6.6 million.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.