AG's office targets new illicit drug use

State prosecutors are contending with drugs that are being widely abused -- synthetics, heroin and illicit prescription drugs, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

Madigan was the luncheon speaker Thursday during the 11th Annual Southern Illinois Drug Awareness Conference at John A. Logan College.

More than 425 people registered for the conference, which included workshops and presentations.

Madigan talked about working with prosecutors statewide to change laws making it tougher for users, sellers and treatment more accessible for those needing it.

"It's a constant battle. Addiction is very powerful," Madigan said in a news conference before she attended the event.

In her opening remarks, Madigan told the audience Illinois has made progress in the fight against methamphetamine. New law and software for tracking those who purchase over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine and other ingredients has helped combat meth making.

Although prosecutors favor a prescription-only status for drugs that include meth-making ingredients, such proposals face intense lobbying efforts from pharmaceutical companies.

"States need to unify in a bipartisan effort to get such a law," Madigan told the audience.

Illinois also continues to fight makers and sellers of synthetic drugs sold from beneath the counter. Those dealing in the synthetics often try to skirt the law with misleading labels and changes to the chemical ingredients.

Madigan said area of great concern are prescription drug abuse and that of heroin, which often go hand-in-hand.

"This is a statewide crises and is continuing to grow," Madigan said.

Many prescription drug users eventually turn to heroin because it is cheaper, she said.

In an effort to save lives, Illinois is one of 17 states that has allowed trained individuals, such as emergency responders, to administer Naloxone, a prescription medication that can reverse the effects of heroin overdoses.