About $29 million was recently awarded to the Illinois Department of Human Services to increase the availability of opioid addiction treatment and to help reduce overdose-related deaths through prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives.
The federal dollars will be critical to implementing many significant programs within the state's opioid action plan, allowing the state to more quickly more forward on the goals and objectives laid out in the plan.
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.
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.
This year, the General Assembly passed several new laws directed at combating the opioid crisis. These include allowing individuals who have been prescribed opioids the option to use medical marijuana to treat their pain, requiring licensed prescribers of controlled substances to complete three hours of continuing education on safe-opioid-prescribing practices prior to renewing their prescription license, and allowing consumers to begin physical therapy services without a doctor’s referral while still ensuring professional medical oversight safeguards.
Opioids were involved in 80 percent of overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. About 11,000 people have died in Illinois since 2008 from 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.