SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – To combat one of the many harmful consequences of the opioid epidemic, state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, recently passed legislation to expand safe needle exchange programs to prevent the transmission of diseases from intravenous drug usage.
“Addiction and the drastic rise in the use of opioids must be addressed comprehensively including ensuring that public health measures are in place to protect users and the greater public,” Conroy said. “Through education and increasing access to clean needles, we can help those suffering from addiction use in a safe manner and begin to form the necessary connections to ultimately get them the help they need.”
The spread of transmittable diseases has increased due to unsafe needle usage with the rise of the opioid epidemic. Needle exchange programs have proven to be an effective tool to reduce the spread of blood-borne illnesses. Senate Bill 1828 creates the Needle and Hypodermic Syringe Access Program to encourage the establishment of needle exchange programs across the state. Conroy’s bill aims to reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, reduce the occurrence of needle stick injuries from the improper discarding of contaminated needles, and to build connections between users and treatment facilities.
“The pervasive rise in the use of opioids must be addressed as a serious public health epidemic. The establishment of trust is critical to combatting it,” Conroy said. “Through the expansion of needle exchange programs, we are letting users know that our community cares about their wellbeing and we will not turn them away when they need us the most.”