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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

IL group eyes legislation linked to opioid treatment options

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Monday, April 22, 2024   

Legislation in Congress, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin - D-IL - could expand treatment choices for people with opioid use disorder.

Current federal regulations mandate that people battling addictions use government-approved treatment programs to receive methadone - a drug that curbs opioid cravings.

Senate Bill 644 would expand access through board-certified addiction specialists, who could prescribe methadone in a clinic or doctor's office.

Lindsey Vuolo - vice president of health law and policy at the nonprofit Partnership to End Addiction - said the measure would remove hardships for people who need help.

"The fact that methadone can be prescribed for pain without these restrictions really demonstrates that there isn't medical justification for these types of restrictions," said Vuolo. "And so, it's really crucial to make effective treatment low barrier - or ideally, no barrier - so that people who are in need of these medications can access them without undue restrictions."

Opponents of expanding methadone access have concerns about possible misuse, or that the drug could be distributed or sold illegally.

The bill is in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and has been there since February. Nearly 3,300 people died from opioid overdoses in Illinois in 2022.

Under the current restrictions, the government-approved programs are the only option for people getting methadone treatment.

Vuolo pointed out that there aren't enough of these programs, and people receiving the treatment must undergo counseling - which can create even more hurdles to getting care.

"People have difficulty using their insurance to access care and can't afford to pay for the cost out of pocket, and lack of access to providers," said Vuolo. "There's a workforce shortage, so there aren't enough trained providers who are able to provide treatment for opioid use disorder and substance use disorder. Behavioral health in general, there's also lack of mental health providers."

The Illinois Department of Public Health says in 2022, the state's mortality rate from opioid use was 26 deaths per 100-thousand residents.




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