NAPERVILLE, Ill. (NewsNation Now) — It was Christmas morning 2018 when Bill Green’s life turned upside down.
A police officer had visited his home in suburban Chicago to tell Green that his 25-year-old son, Alex, had overdosed on heroin and fentanyl.
Alex had passed away in the back hallway of a gas station in the early hours of the morning. The news shocked Green, who hadn’t noticed how heroin had gripped his son.
“We really didn’t know he was in that deep,” Green told NewsNation. “It was really kind of a surprise.”
Alex’s death would mark one of 15,000 fatalities from heroin overdoses in the United States that year.
But while Green can never bring back his son, he hopes a bill in the Illinois General Assembly could save others experiencing an opioid overdose. Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli helped usher in the bill bearing Alex’s name last year, which would give immunity to those seeking or obtaining emergency medical assistance for someone who has overdosed on opioids. The bill would also protect those experiencing an overdose from prosecution.
“The way we look at it, it costs nothing,” Green said. “But it does grant immunity to those that help.”
Wehrli based the bill on a Wisconsin law that also grants protection from criminal prosecution. At least 40 states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar legislation granting immunity, often known as Good Samaritan laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
With the bill stalled in committee in Illinois, Green hopes his message will make an impact for families who may be struggling with addiction.
“I kept on telling friends and family that if your kids tell you that they’re having an issue, you have to take what they’re telling you seriously,” Green said. “We just didn’t believe that was the case. So I keep telling friends, just keep hugging them until they demand to be let go and then don’t let go.”