A father’s bill to prevent overdose deaths like his own son’s has been signed into law.
Early Christmas morning in 2018, Naperville resident and father of three Bill Green heard an unexpected and ultimately life-changing knock on the door. “When we should find Santa Claus knocking on the door,” Green said, “we found the police.” Naperville police instructed Green to call the Forest Park Police Department, who said his son, Alex Green, had died of an opioid overdose early that morning.
Green explained his son, then 25, was dropped off at a gas station in Forest Park. He suspects those who left him behind were afraid of facing punishment after reporting his overdose. Gas station staff and police assumed Alex Green was drunk at first. Police attempted to use the overdose-reversing drug Narcan when they noticed he was no longer breathing, but it was too late.
Taking Action To Prevent Overdose Deaths
Bill Green said he doesn’t blame the police, “but if somebody had told them ‘my friend is overdosing,’ they would’ve walked in, zapped him with the Narcan, and revived him right then and there.”
After his family’s tragic loss, Green reached out to local representatives to incite change. He worked with Illinois State House Representative Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) and State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) to create the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, also named Alex’s Law.
The law states that a person who seeks emergency medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose cannot be prosecuted for drug possession, and extends to the person experiencing the overdose as well.
“The bottom line is, we want to save lives,” Yang Rohr said. “If you’re overdosing, we want to make sure you aren’t scared to call for help, that you aren’t scared to call 911, that you aren’t scared to get emergency services.”
Bill Green said he watched the Illinois Government channel diligently, and he and his wife Dawn were thrilled to see it pass near midnight on Memorial Day this year. Over two and a half years after Alex Green’s death, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law August 20. It takes effect January 1, 2022.
“Just make the call,” Bill Green said. “You’re okay; save somebody’s life. It’s amazing, if it saves one, we’ve done an unbelievable service to that family.”
Yang Rohr said this law illustrates how people in the community can come to their local elected officials to bring change. “They can work with me, they can work with their lawmakers to try to fix these problems.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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