Some time this year residents in Illinois will be able to buy, without a prescription, a drug that may reverse heroin overdoses.

The drug is called Narcan or Naloxone. The Illinois legislature approved the sale of Narcan without a prescription and Walgreen’s pharmacists will dispense it.

The ready availability of the drug comes as the state has seen a 3 percent increase in the number of heroin overdose deaths since 2013.

“Heroin has unfortunately grown in its availability and so in that sense it has grown in its severity,” said IdaLynn Wenhold, executive director of the Naperville-based community group KidsMatter.

Brad Gerke, a 31-year-old who has experienced a heroin overdose, agrees.

“People like to call it an epidemic. We like to call it a pandemic,” he said.

Gerke was 18 when he first tried heroin. He overdosed twice. He was 26 when he got clean.

Now, he is a drug counselor and an advocate for the use of Narcan. He has used the drug twice to try and revive overdose victims. Once he was successful. Once he arrived too late…

Visit NBC Chicago for information, video, and pictures.

Source: NBC Chicago