DEA Combats Illinois' Opioid Crisis With National Prescription Take Back Day

Jim Gudas
October 26, 2019 - 5:21 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The acting head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration came to Chicago today to talk about combatting the opioid crisis in Illinois.

Last year in Illinois, more than 2,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon said the federal government has taken steps to reduce the supply of opioids.

"We help to educate medical practioners about over-prescribing," Dhillon said. "Opioid prescription rates have decreased by almost 30 percent in thelastt couple of years."

Dhillon was at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, in which people were encouraged to turn in unused prescription opioids.

For the first time, the DEA added a new product to be collected: e-cigarettes and other vaping products. People were encouraged to turn in any vaping products in as the number of people developing lung problems after vaping and — in some cases dying — increases.

On Oct. 24, a second person died in Illinois after suffering a vaping-related lung injury. Earlier this month, Indiana reported three vaping-related deaths since Sept. 6. Local governments, such as mayor Lightfoot, and DEA officials are urging people to stay away from vaping products in the wake of a nationwide sweep of vaping-related death cases.