Opioid epidemic hits Illinois hardest in the southern region

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A newspaper investigation shows that Illinois’ 16 southernmost counties are hardest hit by the state’s opioid epidemic. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that there were about 3 million Schedule II opioid patients in Illinois annually from 2008 through 2016. Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program data on such patients during that timeframe show the number of prescriptions in the southern 16 counties grew 30 percent, from 2.16 to 2.75 per patient.