The Illinois Department of Human Services is receiving nearly $29 million in new federal funding to help the state fight the opioid crisis.
The federal grant was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It brings to $61 million the total that the federal government has awarded to the state to fund important programs and initiatives meant to improve and expand access to treatment and recovery services for opioid use.
“These federal dollars will allow the state to move forward on the goals and objectives laid out in the state’s opioid action plan and the work being done by the Governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a press release. “The programs supported by this award represent a range of critical services that will prevent people from misusing opioids and help those with opioid use disorder to begin or continue their path to recovery.”
“The initial federal funding gave IDHS and our other task force members the resources we needed to hit the ground running and implement many significant programs within our Opioid Action Plan,” said Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, who co-chairs the governor’s opioid task force. “This year’s significant increase in funding will allow us to expand our efforts even more quickly and embolden those on the front lines of this battle to save even more lives.”
La Salle County has one of the worst fatal opioid overdose rates in the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recently set up a web page, listing reported overdose figures by county and ZIP code, at idph.illinois.gov/OpioidDataDashboard. The page gives a local glimpse into the nationwide opioid problem that has been worsening in recent years.
Heroin is an opioid, as are fentanyl, methadone and prescription painkillers. They can be deadly on their own or mixed with each other and/or with alcohol.
Of 102 counties in Illinois, La Salle County was fifth worst for rate of deadly opioid overdoses in 2017, with a rate of almost four fatal overdoses per 10,000 residents. However, given the four other counties have populations between 22,000 and 4,900, La Salle County, with 111,000 residents, would be worst for counties of more than 100,000 population.
La Salle County ranked 15th for highest rate of nonfatal overdoses.
In raw numbers, there were 179 overdoses in the county in 2017, of which 40 were fatal. For comparison, there were 18 traffic crash deaths that year.
These funds will support the expansion of treatment and recovery interventions across the state, including medication-assisted treatment services for individuals with opioid use disorders who are incarcerated in county jails and hospital resources to link patients experiencing opioid overdoses with treatment programs in their communities. Housing for people in recovery from opioid use disorder and support services for patients at federally qualified health care centers also will receive grant funding. The award will strengthen and enhance the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, the state’s tracking system that helps to prevent the misuse of prescription opioids.
“Our teams have worked tirelessly to build programs that help people who need it most,” IDHS Secretary James Dimas said. “We have been able to connect thousands of people with the treatment they need, and this award will help us strengthen our substance use programs to fight this epidemic from every angle.”
This grant also will expand opioid overdose protocols training for first responders and widen availability of the overdose reversal medication naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan. In state fiscal year 2018 alone, IDHS supported the purchase of more than 18,000 naloxone kits for first responders and bystanders. This award will help IDHS purchase additional naloxone kits.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently awarded the Illinois Department of Public Health almost $3.7 million as part of a Cooperative Agreement for Emergency Response: Public Health Crisis Response grant to combat the opioid epidemic.
The funding will enhance the state’s capacity to rapidly respond to the opioid overdose crisis through improved data collection and prevention efforts. The grant will allow Illinois to increase its capacity to identify and report timely, comprehensive syndromic surveillance data on fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses.
If you or someone you know is experiencing opioid use disorder, call the state’s Helpline for Opioids and other Substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP or visit HelplineIL.org.