October 22, 2018

Mayor Emanuel Announces $2 Million To Fight Opioids

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced a $2 million federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to support the city’s fight against the opioid crisis. The four-year grant will support the Opioid Overdose Reversal Project, which will support efforts to train and equip Chicago Police Department (CPD) patrol officers in all 22 Police Districts to carry and use naloxone to reverse overdoses, strengthen street outreach to link residents to treatment services, project evaluation and community education.

“This new investment ensures that our first responders have the tools and training they need to tackle the opioid crisis head-on and to work directly with residents to reduce the unnecessary opioid overdoses,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This grant will strengthen our efforts helping more residents get the treatment they need and keep children and families healthy.” 

The grant will support improved emergency response to opioid overdoses across the entire City through the expanded use of naloxone, an overdose reversal medication. The initial pilot will include six police Districts most impacted by opioid use on Chicago's West and South Sides. All patrol officers in these six pilot Districts will complete an approved Narcan training curriculum and be qualified to reverse an opioid overdose when equipped with FDA-approved Narcan Nasal delivery devices. All Chicago Fire Department (CFD) vehicles are also already equipped with Narcan. This new expansion to police members will save more lives by allowing the first emergency responder on the scene to administer the lifesaving medication when necessary. Following the pilot, the program is expected to expand to train and equip all patrol officers and sergeants across the city, and all new Police Academy graduates, to reverse opioid overdoses using a Narcan nasal spray device.

“This grant will allow Chicagoans on the South and West sides who experience an opioid overdose critical access to the lifesaving medication they desperately need. Furthermore, these federal dollars will not only train Chicago Police Officers in the use of naloxone, but will allow them the opportunity to provide information on treatment services and increased community engagement,” said Congressman Bobby L. Rush. “I am glad that attention is being brought to these vulnerable populations that are often overlooked when combating a public health crisis like opioid addiction that plagues every community across America. These funds will provide much-needed hope and the opportunity for healing for people suffering from this disease. I am proud of the work that Congress has done to fight this epidemic and I will continue to support it.” 

The grant will also support new efforts to link residents who have experienced an opioid overdose to addiction treatment and support services. CPD will coordinate with CFD, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), the University of Chicago Health Lab and the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) to identify gaps in care, better align emergency healthcare protocols and implement best practices to connect overdose patients with support services and addiction treatment.

“The opioid crisis continues to devastate families in Chicago and all across the country, and we cannot afford to lose any more of our children to this epidemic,” Senator Tammy Duckworth said. “Resolving our nation's opioid crisis requires a comprehensive effort from officials at every level of government to support prevention and treatment services. This federal funding will help Chicago equip more first responders with naloxone, which will help save lives across our city.” 

Through this Opioid Overdose Reversal Project, Chestnut Health System will be connected with overdose victims to link them to support services and medication assisted treatment (MAT). Chestnut Health Systems Linkage Managers and the Peer Outreach Worker will contact individuals within seven days after their opioid overdose was reversed by a first responder, after individuals provide written HIPPA-compliant contact consent. Linkage Managers will work with these individuals and their friends and families to provide access to MAT and practical strategies to manage treatment options. Peer Outreach Workers will also engage communities in the pilot districts, and eventually across the city, to find and connect residents who may need additional support to the linkage managers, and to offer these individuals ongoing support and encouragement to continue engaging with treatment services to achieve positive outcomes. This includes the development and distribution of a Chicago Opioid Overdose Prevention & Treatment Informational Brochure, developed in multiple languages, listing treatment options and contact information. The goal is to provide up to 6,500 overdose victims per year (up to 26,000 over four years) with linkage information and to successfully link up to 400 of those individuals per year (up to 1,600 over four years) to MAT.

“With our nation in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in its history, we should be doing everything we can to give first-responders and health care providers access to life-saving drugs and therapies. I am glad to see the Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Chicago answering that call by expanding the use of naloxone and providing additional training and resources to those on the frontline of this crisis,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “There is still much more to be done, and I will continue working to bring federal resources to Illinois to help fight the opioid epidemic.”

The University of Chicago Urban Health Lab will collect HIPAA-compliant performance data, measure and analyze progress, and record results. 

“Chicago Police Officers have always been on the front lines of the battle against drug-related harm in our communities,” said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “The current Opioid overdose crisis is no different. CPD is initiating programs to stem the tide of overdose fatalities by arming officers with Narcan Nasal life-saving medication.”

Under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel, the city has taken a series of steps to prevent opioid addiction, reduce overdose deaths, and end deceptive marketing and over-prescribing of opioids that has contributed to a national epidemic of addiction and overdose in Chicago and across the country.

  • The city has doubled its investment in substance addiction programs and overdose reversal over the past three years, including an additional $500,000 annual investment this year, with all additional dollars being focused on the opioid epidemic.
  • CDPH has expanded outreach and education initiatives, including engaging residents through community health workers, spearheading the Heroin Task Force, educating thousands of healthcare providers in medically assisted treatment and launching www.OvercomeOpioids.com, an online resource providing information about addiction, recovery and local services for residents, their family members and community advocates.
  • Last year, Chicago established the country's toughest regulation on pharmaceutical representatives to protect residents from predatory marketing of prescription drugs. More than 1,500 pharmaceutical representatives obtained the Regulated Business License, freeing up revenue that is being invested in opioid addiction treatment and screenings, reaching approximately 4,000 residents in 2017, mostly on Chicago’s West Side. In addition, the city filed a lawsuit against major drug manufacturers for deceptive marketing.
  • The City’s $250,000 annual investment in naloxone, a life-saving medication that stops an opioid overdose, helped reverse 1,544 overdoses between July 2016 and June 2017, and distribute 4,541 naloxone kits to communities across the city. 

"This investment is a recognition of the important role first responders play in stopping this deadly epidemic. Our first responders will continue to save lives by helping to reverse deadly overdoses and connecting residents to effective treatment,”said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. 

Earlier this year, the Chicago Police Department announced it will be providing naloxone to officers and training them on how to administer it to save a life if they witness an overdose. CPD began the initial roll-out to patrol officers in four 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. All new recruits in the Academy began their training in January 2018.