opioids 090820CHICAGO — Illinois is seeing a surge in opioid-related deaths in 2020, already doubling last year’s amounts in Cook County. The state received more than $36 million in federal funding in order to fight the opioid crisis Friday, and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is hopeful these new funds will help equip Illinoisans with the resources to fight substance abuse.

“Many people don’t understand that drug abuse and drug addictions are a disease,” Hunter said. “It’s important to take all the necessary steps to prevent addiction early. There are people battling the global health crisis, racism, and opioid addictions all at the same time. Now more than ever, people need help fighting the disease of addiction, just as they would need help fighting cancer or any other disease.”

The funding awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will expand abuse prevention and response initiatives. Further, critical services will be implemented to help people with opioid use disorders, assist those on a path to recovery, and provide lifesaving medication and support across the state.

In Cook County alone, approximately two-thirds of opioid overdose deaths have been Black and Latino people — the same groups of people dying most from COVID-19.

“I am working with city health managers to establish a Southside Opioid Committee,” Hunter said. “We meet monthly and are inviting alcohol and drug programs to get involved. We hope to apply for federal funding to operate the Southside initiative, as they are doing on the Westside.”

The following initiatives will receive funds:

  • Expanded access to Medication Assisted Recovery services for people with opioid use disorders, including those in the criminal justice system;
    • Hospital screenings and linkage to community treatment programs for their patients; supportive housing and digital resources for people in recovery from opioid use disorder;
    • Access to medication-assisted recovery for patients at federally qualified health centers;
    • Recovery support services for pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorders; mentoring and coaching for medical professionals prescribing medications for opioid use disorder; and a toll-free Helpline for opioids and other substances, and
    • Expanded treatment of people with stimulant use disorder, in response to rising rates of methamphetamine and cocaine use.

People experiencing problems with substance use disorder should call the state’s Helpline for Opioids and other Substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP (1-833-234-6343), text “HELP” to 833234 or visit HelplineIL.org.