Chicago Department of Public Health Marks International Overdose Awareness Day with Education and Events

August 28, 2023

CDPH supports a series of impactful events and partnerships to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day

Anna Dolezal

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is supporting a series of impactful events and partnerships to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day this Thursday, August 31st. These events are designed to raise awareness about the opioid crisis while providing essential resources to the community. “As someone who knows firsthand the devastating effects addiction can have on a family, I appreciate the work that CDPH has been doing on the front lines of the opioid epidemic to save as many Chicago lives as possible,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “The gift of life is the most precious gift of all, and we must do all we can to provide support and services to anyone struggling with addiction. On this International Overdose Awareness Day, let’s remember the friends, family and loved ones we have lost to the opioid crisis, and recommit ourselves to the task of ending this wicked epidemic once and for all.”

The urgency of these efforts is underscored by the stark opioid data in Chicago. While 2022 saw a slight decrease to 1,407 opioid-related overdose fatalities in Chicago from an all-time high of 1,456 deaths in 2021, Cook County and the state of Illinois continue to experience increases in these incidents. CDPH is committed to collective action to combat opioid-related fatalities. “It’s imperative for Chicago families impacted by the opioid crisis to know that we see them, and that we’re here for them,” said CDPH Acting Commissioner, Fikirte Wagaw.

CDPH will participate in the following events:

The End Overdose Now Illinois Rally & Resource Fair is scheduled for August 28, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Federal Plaza downtown. Mayor Brandon Johnson will deliver keynote remarks, and CDPH will disseminate harm reduction resources and information on preventing opioid overdoses. “Every day, we are losing ten Illinoisans to preventable overdose deaths. It is inexcusable and has devastated entire communities across our state. We are losing our friends, loved ones, neighbors, and colleagues — human beings!" said Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, LSW, Founder & Co-Chair of the Illinois Harm Reduction & Recovery Coalition. “All are welcome to join us, rally, learn, mourn, and connect."

The West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force will hold its 5th annual International Overdose Awareness Day Event from on August 31, from 11 AM to 1 PM. The location is near the corner of Lake and Laramie next to Sun Subs Restaurant. The Task Force, established in 2016, brings together community-based agencies, faith-based organizations, governmental entities, recovery groups, health care providers and persons with lived experience to confront opioid overdoses and resultant deaths in Chicago’s West Side communities. “The overdose crisis in Chicago and elsewhere is a multi-faceted challenge that requires a broad and deep collaborative effort to confront. The West Side Task Force brings together providers and community members to this effort from a variety of skills, experiences and expertise,” said Luther Syas, Task Force Outreach Director. “We are realistic but determined to stay focused and relentless in our effort, and welcome all to join us in the work!”

The South Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force will host resource tables on August 31 at 2950 S. California (Division 10) and 2650 S. California (Leighton Courthouse) from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in partnership with the Cook County Department of Corrections. The task force will also provide instructions on how to use Narcan to avoid overdose deaths to men and women currently incarcerated at the CCDOC.

In addition to these citywide events, the city's skyline will light up in purple, the official color of the addiction recovery movement, as part of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago’s (BOMA) Illuminate Chicago program. From August 29 to 31, buildings can choose to illuminate with purple lighting and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower will proudly showcase the message of "End Overdose" on August 31. These efforts will be supported by social media posts, CTA announcements, and radio advertising to further spread the message that substance use impacts everyone in the city, and resources are available at no cost.

CDPH has a variety of initiatives aimed at preventing overdose in the city of Chicago. To date, CDPH has distributed over 10,000 Narcan kits through a partnership with Chicago Public Libraries (CPL). Every CPL branch in the city carries Narcan that is available to any resident of the city.

CDPH also partners with the Illinois Department of Human Services Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (IDHS/SUPR) and Family Guidance Centers for the MAR NOW program, which offers same-day access to medication to treat substance use disorder, as well as free transportation, insurance enrollment, and assistance with pharmacy access. Launched in May 2022, it is one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation.

CDPH invites all residents, businesses, and community members to unite against the opioid crisis. By fostering collaboration, education, and raising awareness, we can take meaningful strides toward ending overdoses and cultivating a safer, healthier Chicago for everyone.

For additional information on overdose prevention resources available through CDPH, please visit