Friday, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual global event that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.
The day coincides with the recent signing of a monumental new law to curb opioid addiction in Illinois. Senate Bill 336 creates the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018, adding those who might otherwise seek opioids for pain management to the list of those eligible for medical marijuana.
Advanced as a bipartisan effort to address the opioid crisis in our country—giving people more control over their health care and offering more pain-relief options—the new law puts in place a pilot program that will not compromise patient safety or diminish medical marijuana program standards, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Licensed physicians must certify an individual has a medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed. Participants, who must be 21 or older, must register at a licensed dispensary. Dispensations are limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days and cannot exceed 90 days per physician certification.
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah underscored in a recent press statement that opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time. IDPH reports opioid deaths in Illinois increased 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. In Illinois, more people died last year from opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents.