hunter 083122CHICAGO – On International Opioid Awareness Day, State Senator Mattie Hunter announced the official launch of the South Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force, which she is the convener of.

Hunter was joined by Florence Mason, Director of the South Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force; partners Walonza Lee, Program Director Office of Substance Use Chicago Department of Public Health, and Livia Verklan Mcinnes, GIS Analyst for the Chicago Department of Public Health; and La Shaun Rickman, Executive Director of Brighter, Behavior, Choices Inc., where the press conference was held.

“Our goal is to make treatment and other resources more accessible for those struggling with substance abuse,” said Hunter (D-Chicago). “We want to provide tangible resources for those dealing with substance use and their loved ones to combat this crisis and let them know that overdose is avoidable when help is available.”


In the last couple years, Chicago has seen opioid overdose rates at an all-time high. According to CDPH, there are more opioid-related overdose in Chicago than homicides and traffic crash fatalities combined.


The inception of the South Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force began during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by efforts of the West Side Heroin and Opioid Task Force, this task force was created with intentions to fill community needs on the South Side.

“Supporting those in recovery is a team effort, one that requires participation at the local and state levels,” Hunter said. “That is why we have a strong allegiance with the Chicago Department of Public Health, and state funding for several recovery programs.”

The FY23 budget includes $98 million in total toward addiction treatment services and $1.7 million toward prevention related services.

The South Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon. To attend a virtual meeting, subscribe to their e-newsletter on the task force’s website

People can call the Illinois Helpline at 833-234-6343 or text “HELP” to 833234 to receive support, including connection to a provider for immediate opioid use disorder treatment.