Will County grant to fund opiate overdose prevention
Joliet – For the second year, Will County was awarded the Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose Related Deaths grant by the Illinois Department of Human Services and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to further its efforts in combating the opioid overdose epidemic. Will County is part of the Statewide Illinois Opioid Crisis Advisory Council.
Dr. Kathleen Burke, the county’s Director of Substance Use Initiatives, said Will County has made significant progress introducing strategies to save lives.
The grant-funded Narcan Distribution Program has trained 168 people between February and June. Each person trained received two free doses of Narcan. In 2016, all police departments in Will County were trained to deliver naloxone, the life-saving antidote that can reverse an opiate overdose. To date in 2017, naloxone has been deployed 16 times compared to 16 times total in 2016.
“An overdose can occur anytime anywhere so it is critical we have as many people as possible trained to administer naloxone and save a life, especially folks who work with high risk individuals, family members, and substance users” Burke said.
The Will County strategy against the opiate epidemic includes prevention, harm reduction, treatment and long term recovery services.
Dr. Burke is conducting an inventory of school programs offered in Will County and treatment services, including access to Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT). It has been documented there is a shortage of treatment resources.
Despite all of these efforts, overdose deaths are increasing because of Fentanyl - a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.
“We have a lot of work to do to continue to educate about the dangers of opiates, train the public on the use of naloxone, and expand access to treatment,” she said.