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Drug policy researcher weighs in on overdose death of Cory Monteith

Posted: 07/18/2013

Kathleen Kane Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University, called the untimely death of Fox TV’s Glee star Cory Monteith “ a tragedy that could have been prevented and reversed” if available overdose precautions and treatments were more commonly known and understood.

“More than 100 people die of overdose every day in the United States. That’s nearly one death every 15 minutes,” said Kane-Willis, reacting to reports that Monteith had died from a toxic mix of heroin and alcohol.

“We hope that this tragic death will bring to light the issues of how heroin overdoses can be reversed with the use of the drug naloxone,” she said. “Since Monteith was in treatment shortly before he died, we wonder if he had been equipped with an overdose prevention plan upon  his discharge from treatment,” Kane-Willis added.

The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy assisted in advocacy efforts led by the AIDS Foundation Chicago, the Chicago Recovery Alliance and treatment providers to help pass the 2009 OD Prevention Act.  The law allows for  lay people to be trained in the use of the drug naloxone, which can immediately reverse the impact of heroin overdose when administered in an emergency situation.

 The consortium also has worked in tandem with others across the state for the recent passage of a Good Samaritan law in Illinois, the Emergency Services Medical Access Act, which encourages people to call 911 without fear of legal repercussions in the event of an overdose.
   
“We hope that this tragedy will turn the public’s attention toward addressing the overdose crisis that is taking place in Illinois and around the nation,” said Kane-Willis. “We need to make sure these two new laws are implemented by the state of Illinois in a timely fashion so that lives can be saved,” she said.

For more information, contact Kane-Willis at 312-341-4336 or kkane@roosevelt.edu or visit www.stopoverdoseIL.org.