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Comprehensive, Controversial Heroin Legislation Introduced

Amanda Vinicky

Sweeping legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Before he became a state legislator, Republican Rep. John Anthony was a cop in Champaign, and a sheriff's deputy in Kendall County.

"I will never forget the first time that I responded to an overdose call. I can't use the name because the person was a juvenile," he said. "But I'll never forget showing up to this place and seeing the color purple. That was the color of this individual. I didn't know what to do. There's no training. We were never prepared to deal with those individuals who are overdosing."

Anthony also says he has a personal reason for wanting to curb heroin use; his mother was an addict.

The plan he backs would generally limit patients to getting 10 days' worth of prescriptions for opiods -- a pain killer that's often a gateway to heroin -- at a time. The idea is less would be left over, for someone to get addicted to; or even for a kid or visitor to pluck from a bottle in the medicine cabinet. Likewise, all Illinois pharmacies would be required to have drug disposal programs. Doctors would register the prescriptions they write, in an attempt to track and prevent drug shopping. The list goes on.

But it comes with a price of about $25 million, and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget cuts more than that from existing addiction treatment programs.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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