Durbin, Rock Island Leaders Discuss Initiatives to Combat Opioid Epidemic

ROCK ISLAND – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos and other local leaders for a briefing about Rock Island County's new program designed to help people addicted to opioids get the treatment they need without facing arrest or prosecution. The Safe Passage Program began in January and the first person to use it is now going through treatment.


“Every day, more than 100 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Tackling this crisis requires a coordinated effort from government agencies, health care providers, drug companies, law enforcement, and the treatment community,” Durbin said. “I applaud Rock Island County for providing a path to treatment for those suffering from addiction, and will continue to do all I can at the federal level to prevent more individuals from falling victim to opioid abuse.”


Rock Island County’s Safe Passage Program is based on the successful program started by the Dixon Police Department and Lee County in 2015, which allows opioid abusers to turn in their drugs and paraphernalia for destruction and law enforcement agencies will work to connect them with a drug treatment program.


Like many parts of the country, Rock Island County has seen an increase in opioid overdose deaths in recent years, with numbers jumping from six deaths in 2016 to 21 in 2017. Nationwide, there were over 42,000 opioid deaths in 2016 – more than 115 people each day. 


Durbin has introduced several pieces of legislation to expand treatment for opioid and substance addiction and increase access to drug prevention programs that have been proven to save lives, as well as legislation that seeks to prevent addiction before it starts by curbing the volume of addictive opioid painkillers on the market.


Most recently Durbin has been pushing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce the number of opioid pills allowed to be manufactured and sold in the United States. After years of dramatic increases to the volume of opioids allowed to come to the market, the DEA lowered quotas by a combined total of 41 percent over the past two years, but the quotas are still high enough to flood the market with 14 billion pills per year – enough for every American adult to have a one-month prescription.