| February 25, 2020

DuPage County Awards $100,000 to Nonprofits Fighting Opioid Epidemic

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

A DuPage task force that was set up in response to the opioid crisis has awarded $100,000 to community groups to expand capabilities in the fight against the epidemic in the county.

The DuPage County Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) task force announced three recipients who will share the $100,000 grant.

The organizations that received the grants

  • DuPage Health Coalition – $50,000. The funds will increase the number of DuPage County emergency department physicians certified to administer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders.
  • Access Community Health Network – $30,412. The grant will allow the expansion of MAT services at the Access Family Health Center in West Chicago.
  • The Edward Foundation – $19,588. The funding will be used to create new peer-support recovery groups in DuPage County.

MAT services are said to help ease withdrawal symptoms.  A review of treatment in the county shows a treatment gap in the county, it was reported.

In a statement announcing the grant recipients, the HOPE task force said the proposals serve DuPage County residents and align with the task force’s mission, which is to reduce access to drugs, reduce opioid use and misuse, increase overdose response, provide integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment, lead recovery actions and address substance use prevention and education.

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“We welcome the opportunity to deepen the collaboration with these partners as we work to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in DuPage County,” said Lanny Wilson, HOPE Taskforce co-chairman.

Fighting the opioid epidemic

In an effort to address the opioid crisis, the DuPage County Board agreed to provide $100,000 annually to support the work of the HOPE Taskforce.

Last year, a total of 96 DuPage County residents died of opioid overdoses. A year earlier, the county recorded 98 opioid overdose deaths.

“Opioids and substance use disorder continue to take too many lives. Our new grant partners will expand DuPage’s efforts to fight this epidemic through innovative solutions that leverage public, private and non-profit partnerships,” said Greg Hart, HOPE Taskforce co-chairman.

DuPage County chairman, Dan Cronin, said the county continued to seek ways to reduce the “devastating number of needless deaths experienced as a result of substance abuse disorder, especially due to opioid addiction.”

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Last October, the HOPE task force announced it was offering grants of between $25,000 and $50,000 each for local government and not-for-profit community organizations to fight the opioid crisis in the county.

At the time, Hart, the task force’s co-chairman, said fighting the opioid epidemic was a community effort and they were looking for local organizations to assist the HOPE Taskforce in its efforts to address opioid use disorder in DuPage County by providing suggestions on where funds should be allocated.

It was reported that the task force received 15 grant applications and a seven-member committee comprised of three health department staffers and four others reviewed 14 applicants. There was no explanation for omitting the 15th application.

The $100,000 is a portion of the $2.3 million that DuPage County has committed to reduce substance abuse disorders among its residents.

Other DuPage County initiatives in the fights against the opioid epidemic

DuPage County has introduced a number of initiatives to combat the opioid crisis. One such is the Narcan Program, which provides regular trainings for first responders and community members. These training sessions provide an overview of the opioid epidemic in the county, teach attendees how to recognize and respond to an overdose, how to use the lifesaving antidote Narcan and education on community resources.

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The DuPage County sheriff’s office also provides free DETERRA opioid deactivation kits, which are designed to help opiate users by deactivating opioids.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has named the opioid crisis the ‘deadliest’ in the history of the US. Across the state, opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people since 2008. To illustrate how grim the situation is, 2,000 died last year- almost double the number of those who died in car accidents. At the current rate, the crisis will kill more than 2,700 Illinoisans in 2020.

In an effort to combat the epidemic, the U.S. is increasingly approaching technology companies for help to provide answers.

Last year, Google Maps pioneered a new feature showing users the nearest drug disposal location.  In the past two years, the state of Illinois has approved a number of laws expanding telehealth services for patients on Medicaid, with the hope that this technology can help stem the opioid epidemic.

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