Opioid Crisis

CHICAGO – In order to combat the opioid epidemic, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus are supporting the 2022 State of Illinois Overdose Action Plan, a comprehensive, equity-centric outline to change how Illinois deals with overdoses.

This plan prioritizes outreach to and engagement with individuals who are at risk for both fatal and non-fatal overdose due to drugs like synthetic opioids, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other substances.

“Illinoisans have been battling more than one pandemic. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid overdoses and opioid-related deaths have increased significantly,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “I am glad that we have a plan to address this crisis on a state level. As the convener of the Southside Heroin and Opioid Task Force, I am dedicated to increasing access to better treatment and prevention options for those who struggle with substance abuse.”

As reported last November, the United States experienced over 100,000 overdose deaths in a 12-month period. In Illinois, the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2020 increased 33% compared to 2019. Communities of color, including the West Side of Chicago, have experienced some of the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state.

“Opioid overdoses are a major issue in our state, so much so that I held a hearing to learn more about the root causes and treatment options last year,” said State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “I am happy that the state is putting a plan in motion to further efforts to address this issue that is affecting so many communities.”

The launch of the state overdose plan follows the governor’s announcement of David T. Jones as the new Chief Behavioral Health Officer. 

“Enlisting a Chief Behavioral Health Officer in the governor’s office is visionary and timely,” said State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). “The pandemic amplified the need for better coordination between our sister agencies in order to achieve better outcomes. I look forward to working together to move Illinois forward in this very critical space."

Jones, who currently serves as Director for the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery within the Illinois Department of Human Services, will coordinate with relevant state agencies to develop recommendations for the ideal state infrastructure for behavioral health. His appointment will be effective April 1.

Illinois’ most recent investments in mental and behavioral health support services total more than $2.2 billion dollars, including $388.8 million in the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery and $112 million for Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities.