State Launches Helpline to Address Opioid Crisis

A statewide helpline has been launched to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances. The helpline can be accessed free of charge by dialing 1-833-2FINDHELP.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specialists trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services.

The helpline is the latest step in Illinois lawmakers’ commitment to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Officials from the Rauner administration have been meeting throughout the year to establish an agenda to combat the epidemic, and the Governor unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed Executive Order 2017-05 creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force in September of this year. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav Sha, was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years.

Another policy established under Executive Order 2017-05 was a Standing Order to make the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) available to first responders and members of communities across Illinois, without a prescription.

IDPH data shows opioid overdoses killed 1,946 people in Illinois in 2016 — more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.

The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by federal grant dollars that the State of Illinois secured from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Opioid State Targeted Response grant is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

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