In another step to help prevent more overdose related deaths, the state of Illinois rolled out a 24/7 opioid and substance addiction helpline Tuesday.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah says the helpline is an important addition to the state’s fight against the opioid epidemic, which killed close to 2,000 people in Illinois last year.
The hotline "helps prevent individuals from becoming addicted in the first place," Shah says.
"It helps connect those who are grappling with substance use disorder with treatment, and it helps in the immediate response, so that individuals who are in jeopardy know where to go. Really is the classic situation where one intervention can address individuals grappling with this disease at all stages.”
Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this year signed an executive order creating an opioid prevention task force and giving first responders access to the overdose reversal drug Narcan without a prescription.
Dr. Maria Burni, acting director of the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, says her office receives on average 40 to 100 calls per day from people seeking help. But these calls can only be answered during working hours, leaving many with no option but to leave a message or send an email.
These issues are resolved with the helpline and its specialists who are trained to help connect callers with the appropriate treatment services.
The helpline is funded through federal grant dollars from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. The grant is overseen by the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
The number is 1-833-2FINDHELP.