St. Clair County
Opioids are a sedative narcotic that reduce the perception of pain. When used, they bind to receptors throughout the body and release dopamine. They can cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, euphoria, mental confusion, nausea and constipation. For some people, the pleasure experienced when taking an opioid leads to a craving to repeat use. Opioids include, but are not limited to, the following prescription and street drugs:
Some people use prescription opioids by taking the medicine in a way other than prescribed. When misusing a prescription opioid, a person may swallow the medicine in a pill form, or crush pills or open capsules to inhale the powder. The powder can also be dissolved in water and injected into a vein.
Anyone who takes an opioid can be at risk of an overdose. The risk increases when:
Benzodiazepines are involved in more than 30% of opioid overdoses. Sometimes called benzos or bennies, these sedative drugs are commonly prescribed for anxiety or to help with insomnia.
The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but can lead to brain changes that challenge a person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. Opioid use disorder, a term used to describe people who have an opioid substance use problem, is a brain disease.
Naloxone is a safe medication used to quickly reverse an opioid overdose. It comes in three FDA approved forms: injectable, auto-injectable, and nasal spray known as NARCAN®. Naloxone is not additive, and a tolerance is not developed from repeated use. Allergic reactions to naloxone are extremely rare. Naloxone was first approved for use in the United State in 1971. NARCAN® Nasal Spray, came on the market in 2015.
Naloxone is safe for use on any person, including women who are pregnant and children. It only helps reverse opioid overdoses, but will not hurt a person who has taken other drugs or is having a medical emergency not related to opioid use. Due to a variety of factors, more than one dose may be needed. For this reason, it is critical that EMS services be requested by dialing 911.
Opioids affect the part of the brain that regulates breathing. When taken in high doses, an opioid can cause a person to stop breathing. Anyone experiencing slowed or stopped breathing due to opioid use should be administered naloxone as soon as possible. Other signs of overdose include:
People who are given naloxone should be observed constantly until emergency care arrives, and for at least 2 hours by medical personnel after the last dose of naloxone to make sure breathing does not slow or stop.
If you, a family member, or a friend is using opioids, you should carry naloxone as a first aid tool. Consider having naloxone available if:
A family member or friend is taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain management
Someone you know is using opioids and depressants like alcohol or certain anxiety medications
A person has a history of opioid use disorder
An individual is completing opioid detoxification or being discharged from a medical or treatment facility
Someone is being released from incarceration and has a history of opioid use disorder
You are a community member who comes into contact with people at risk of an opioid overdose
Your organization or place of business may encounter people using opioids
Naloxone is sensitive to light and extreme temperatures. Avoid storing it where temperatures drop below 32° F or exceed 104° F. If this occurs, or the product expires, it can still be used. It will not become toxic though it may be less effective. Like any medication, naloxone should be stored in a safe place away from children and pets.
In Illinois, the Good Samaritan Law allows anyone to purchase, carry and use naloxone, and it encourages calls to 911 in case of an overdose by eliminating prosecution in some situations. Also, anyone can walk into a pharmacy and purchase naloxone, the cost may be at least $150 without insurance. If a person has insurance they can ask the pharmacist to run a prescription and only pay a co-pay; most pharmacies are providing this service.
Amends the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act. Provides that a person who, in good faith, seeks or obtains emergency medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose shall not be charged or prosecuted for Class 4 felony possession of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance, a controlled substance analog, or Class 3 felony methamphetamine if evidence for the possession charge was acquired as a result of the person seeking or obtaining emergency medical assistance. Provides that a person who is experiencing an overdose shall not be charged or prosecuted for Class 4 felony possession of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance, or a controlled substance analog, or in the case of methamphetamine Class 3 felony possession if evidence for the possession charge was acquired as a result of the person seeking or obtaining emergency medical assistance. Provides that the action of seeking or obtaining emergency medical assistance for an overdose may be used as a mitigating factor in a criminal prosecution for Class 3 felony or higher possession, manufacture or delivery of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance or a controlled substance analog, or in the case of methamphetamine Class 2 felony or higher possession, manufacture or delivery of methamphetamine. Effective immediately.
When calling 911 or taking someone to an emergency room for an overdose, you and the person overdosing cannot be charged with possession for small amounts of illegal drugs (3g or less of heroin or cocaine, or 1 gram or less of methamphetamine).
If you suspect someone is overdosing, check the scene for your safety. Look for drugs, needles, body fluids, and anything else that could make the scene unsafe. Use universal precautions by wearing gloves and using a breathing barrier.
Step 1— Determine if the person is unconscious by doing a sternal rub for 10 seconds by rubbing your knuckles on the breast bone and talking to the person. If there is no response check for breathing and pulse. Look for:
Step 2— Call 911 immediately. Opioid overdose is a very dangerous condition that can result in permanent physical and mental damage or even death if medical treatment is not administered right away.
Step 3— Check for breathing and pulse. Provide rescue breathes, chest compressions or other necessary first aid.
Step 4— Administer the NARCAN® by placing the NARCAN® in one nostril and pushing the NARCAN®’s plunger. Do not prime or test the spray. It is best to position the person on their back, but it is not necessary. Expect some of the spray to flow from the nostril. The 4 mg dose assures that a sufficient amount of the drug will be absorbed through the person’s mucus membranes. Note: If another form is naloxone is used, follow the directions given.
Step 5— If a person is unconscious, but is breathing, they should be placed in the recovery position. This will keep their airway clear and open, and ensures that any vomit or fluids won’t cause them to choke.
Step 6— If the person does not begin breathing on their own, a second dose of NARCAN® can be administered in the other nostril 2-3 minutes after the first dose.
Afterwards stay with the person and provide comfort. Watch for combative behavior when the person is revived. Opioids stay in the body longer than the naloxone, so be prepared for another overdose. The NARCAN® container can be disposed of in the trash. Naloxone may cause withdrawal symptoms which may be uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms may include headache, changes in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and tremors.
Make sure the young people in your life understand the risks associated with the underage use of alcohol, tobacco or vaping products, marijuana, and other drugs. Help them avoid misuse of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Young people are more likely to experiment with alcohol and other drugs if they have experienced a traumatic event like loss, abuse, illness or neglect. Other risk factors for use include social stigma and discrimination.
Having naloxone available to help in case of an opioid overdose emergency will help save lives. Every person deserves a chance to get into treatment and recovery because Recovery is Possible.
In Illinois, the Social Host Law, which went into effect January 1, 2013, holds adults accountable for underage drinking that occurs in the home. There are several parts to this law.
If you allow or host a party at your house and provide alcohol to people under age 21 (or if you know or should have known that they are drinking alcohol), you are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. This will result in a fine. Note that you are held responsible regardless if you are the one who provides the alcohol AND regardless if you are home or not.
If a minor who was drinking at your house injures or kills someone, you are guilty of a Class 4 felony. This could result in both a fine and/or jail time.
You will not be guilty of violating the law if you request help from the police to help remove the underage drinkers and stop the gathering. This only holds if you make the first one to call—not if the police show up after a complaint from a neighbor and then you ask for help.
In addition, depending on local community ordinances, you may also be held responsible for the costs of emergency services/law enforcement that respond to a call, attorney fees and other costs associated.
As responsible parents you need to be a positive role model and prevent youth access to alcohol in your home. Your kids need to know where you stand on underage drinking through ongoing conversations about consequences. Give them the tools they need to make good decisions about drinking in the many different scenarios they may encounter—at a friend’s house, at a party, after school.