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Deaths from opioid overdose are preventable. There is a medicine that can reverse opioid overdose. It’s called naloxone. Get free naloxone and help from Chicago Recovery Alliance and Live4Lali.

Understanding the Epidemic

Content from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Preventing Opioid Overdose

In 2019, Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) received $4.7 million in grant funding to prevent opioid overdose deaths and increase access to and use of evidence-based substance use treatment programs.

CCDPH, in partnership with public and non-profit organizations, has launched a comprehensive opioid overdose prevention initiative. The initiative has four major components:

  • Training on opioid overdose and naloxone use for community-based organizations and law enforcement agencies
  • Distribution of naloxone to community-based organizations and priority law enforcement agencies
  • Technical assistance to establish deflection protocols and programs
  • Quantitative and qualitative data collection on opioid use, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose to help inform public health efforts.

For more information and reports on opioid overdose in suburban Cook County, please see the sidebar on the right-hand side of this page.

Community Naloxone Distribution

CCDPH is excited to announce that we are training and distributing naloxone kits to community-based social service organizations in suburban Cook County.

Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist—meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.

  • Community-based organizations and providers can view CCDPH’s online naloxone training at this link.
  • Community-based organizations and providers can request naloxone by completing this form Community based organizations will be prioritized based on service area, community need, and/or a recent rise in overdose cases in the population served.
  • Community partners that have requested naloxone in the past and need to replenish their supply can request a refill at this link. 
  • Law enforcement agencies that are interested in receiving naloxone through CCDPH’s program can request naloxone at this link. Law enforcement agencies in underserved areas of suburban Cook County will be prioritized. 

COVID-19 and Opioid Use

Our harm reduction partners have shared with us that changes to the drug supply, in combination with the economic impact and social isolation of COVID-19, have increased the risk for overdose and opioid use.

The data indicates that there has been an increase in opioid deaths starting in mid 2019, but the impact of the pandemic is inconclusive since there remains pending cases in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a family of drugs related to opium, including heroin, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, and others. While heroin is illegal, other opioids are legal and available by prescription, usually for the treatment of pain. Opioids are effective and safe when taken in the appropriate doses and for short periods of time. However, they may produce a feeling of euphoria and can be misused for this purpose. Even when used as prescribed, their use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and potentially overdose and death.

The Opioid Epidemic

Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths have been decreasing in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (almost 7 out of 10) involve an opioid. More than 67,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, making it the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).