February 8, 2018

Mayor Emanuel Announces Next Steps in Fight Against Opioids

Police Department rolls out lifesaving overdose medication to officers

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the next steps in the City’s fight against opioids and to keep Chicago residents safer and healthier. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) will be providing naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, to officers and training them on how to administer it, expanding tools available to first responders to help save lives. In 2017, Chicago saw 7,527 opioid overdoses treated by the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) with naloxone.

“The expansion of naloxone to the police department is the next in series of aggressive steps taken by the City to invest in addiction treatment and services, but more importantly it will help save lives,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our all hands on deck approach is working to prevent opioid addiction and end an epidemic that is destroying families across the country and here in Chicago.”

This year, CPD will begin purchasing naloxone and training its officers in how to administer the lifesaving nasal spray when someone is in the midst of an overdose. The initial roll-out will be to the districts with a high overdose risk, including the Calumet (5), Gresham (6), Ogden (10) and Harrison (11) police districts as well as the Narcotics Unit. The police department training on how to administer the medication is two hours and conducted by CPD Training Academy staff. All new recruits in the Academy began their training in January 2018.Veteran officers will be trained in a two-hour course conducted by CPD Training Academy’s mobile instruction team. Officers in the pilot districts who are not already trained will be trained in their district by our mobile instruction team. CPD will fund the $200,000 project to distribute naloxone.

“I am proud that our great city continues to lead at the forefront of the fight against opioid addiction,” said Chairman Ed Burke. “Chicago’s first responders are the first on scene when crises occur and this effort continues to give them the tools they need to save lives. Combined with critical investments in addiction treatment and services and holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, Chicago is tackling this epidemic head on.”

CDPH has released epidemiology briefs on opioid use and misuse, highlighting the communities facing the most overdose deaths. This data is being used to help target treatment dollars to communities with the greatest need. The most recent report shows that every ethnic group, every adult age group and communities across Chicago have been impacted, though residents of the west and south sides have been most impacted. Of all Chicago residents who died of opioid-related overdose in 2016, African American residents account for 48 percent, white residents 34 percent and Latino residents 17 percent. Residents between the ages of 45 and 64 account for nearly half of all opioid-related deaths.

"Ensuring public safety goes beyond focusing solely on violent crime, it means we must also be prepared to address the devastating effects of opioid addiction," said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson. "I am proud to equip our officers with this potentially lifesaving tool that will complement our ongoing efforts to offer non-violent drug offenders with the opportunity to seek addiction treatment instead of jail time. We will continue to work with our city partners to identify additional ways we can keep every Chicagoan safe."

In 2015, the City of Chicago spearheaded a joint Chicago-Cook County Heroin Task Force, which highlighted overdose reversal as a critical response to the opioid epidemic. In 2016, the Chicago Fire Department expanded their deployment of naloxone, in both injection or nasal spray form, in conjunction with recommendations made by the Task Force. In August 2016, CFD trained every member, more than 4,000, in naloxone administration at satellite trainings. In October 2016, the department deployed the lifesaving medication all 75 advanced lifesaving (ALS) ambulances, 73 ALS firetrucks and 150 first line vehicles, and made it available to all uniformed members. As part of an Illinois Department of Public Health agreement, the 33 hospitals that CFD serves in Chicago and surrounding suburbs replace used dosages of naloxone.

“We know that there is no one-size fits all solution to addiction. This is why we’re investing in a myriad of treatment options to address different patient needs,” said CDPH Commissioner, Julie Morita, M.D. “These investments recognize that addiction treatment requires all of us working together from community partners to medical providers, to support individuals through the recovery process.”

In 2017, CDPH began investing an additional $700,000 a year in opioid addiction treatment and supportive services, with a focus on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Is addition, as part of the City’s ongoing efforts, CDPH has expanded outreach and education. Last year, CDPH launched www.overcomeopioids.com, a new online resource hub providing information about services and providers for residents, their family members and community advocates. The city's continued investment in naloxone through the Chicago Recovery Alliance helped the organization reverse 1,544 overdoses in a single year. The Chicago Recovery Alliance distributed 4,541 naloxone kits using one year of the City’s funding.

In October 2017, Alderman Burke held a City Council hearing on the opioid crisis, during which the City passed a resolution calling on state and federal official to declare a national public health crisis and expand naloxone to first responders.