Opioids in Illinois: A State Crisis Mirrors a National Epidemic


Opioid abuse and addiction have been a nationwide epidemic as pharmaceutical companies began marketing pain medication for widespread use. As people became addicted they often switched from prescription pain medications to cheaper alternatives like heroin. The abuse and addiction rates then spiraled.

In Illinois opioid addiction climbed to alarming highs, and so did emergency room visits and overdoses. In 2013, synthetic opioids accounted for 583 deaths. By 2020 that number increased by 80% to 1,051. In fact, in 2020 there were 2,944 overdose deaths related to any opioid. That’s more than 2.3 times the amount of car crash deaths and 2.2 times the amount of homicide deaths.

Illinois Responds with Initiative to Combat Overdose

In order to put a stop to the epidemic, in February 2020 the Illinois Department of Public Health started a data-driven approach to reducing opioid overdoses. The initiative is called “Stop Opioid Overdoses: Statewide Strategies.” Some of the main goals of this project include reducing the number of opioid prescriptions written each year and increasing naloxone availability.

The first step in this process was creating education and awareness programs for both medical professionals and Illinois residents. These programs help people understand the risks associated with opioids and how to properly use them (if they are prescribed). They also provide information on how to get help if someone is struggling with addiction.

Signs Someone May Be Struggling with Opioid Addiction

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There are many signs that someone may be struggling with opioid addiction. Some of the physical signs include:

  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Change in eating habits
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cravings for the drug

Some of the behavioral signs include:

  • Withdraw from friends and family
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Engage in risky behaviors
  • Legal troubles

If you or someone you know is displaying any of these signs, it is important to seek help. There are many resources available to those struggling with addiction. There are also many accredited treatment facilities in Illinois that can help people overcome opioid dependence. Reach out today to learn more about rehab options.


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