State public health officials say progress is being made in the fight against opioid abuse, but the fight, is just getting started.
Jenny Epstien oversees the Illinois Opioid Action Plan for the Department of Public Health, and according to Epstien, the number of opioid related deaths in the state dropped from approximately 2,200 in 2017, to 2,167 in 2018.
The slight decrease is the first drop in opioid related deaths in the last five years.
Epstien said there is still much more work to be done.
“Although any decrease in death is something to be celebrated, this decrease was driven primarily by a decrease in deaths among non-Hispanic whites. Deaths among African Americans and Hispanic residents continued to increase between 2017 and 2018, illustrating a persistent disparity. We have also seen non-fatal opioid overdoses have not abated.”
Epstien says that the state needs to continue to focus on overdose prevention and providing more access to addiction treatment.
“I.D.P.H.’s Rural Opioid Prevention Initiative is working with law enforcement agency leadership in an 18 county region in southern Illinois to train their officers on opioid overdose prevention and the importance of linking opioid overdose survivors to treatment and recovery supports.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a 24 hour helpline devoted to connecting individuals to treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and other Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).
If you need help for yourself, or on behalf of a loved one, call 1-833-2FINDHELP.
Or go to the Department of Public Health website at dph.illinois.gov