Hunter Launches Opioid Task Force on International Overdose Awareness Day

CHICAGO – On International Opioid Awareness Day, State Senator Mattie Hunter announced the official launch of the South Side Heroin and Opioid Task Force, of which she is the facilitator.

Hunter was joined by Florence Mason, director of the South Side Heroin and Opioids Task Force; partners Walonza Lee, program director Office of Substance Use Chicago Department of Public Health, and Livia Verklan Mcinnes, GIS analyst for the Chicago Department of Public Health; and La Shaun Rickman, executive director of Brighter, Behavior, Choices Inc., where the press conference took place.

“Our goal is to make treatment and other resources more accessible for those struggling with addiction,” Hunter (D-Chicago) said. “We want to provide tangible resources to people struggling with substance use and their loved ones to help address this crisis and let them know that overdose is preventable when help is available.”

Over the past two years, Chicago has seen opioid overdose rates at an all-time high. According to the CDPH, there are more opioid-related overdoses in Chicago than homicides and deaths in traffic accidents combined.

The creation of the South Side Heroin and Opioid Task Force began during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by the efforts of the West Side Heroin and Opioid Task Force, this task force was created to serve the needs of the South Side community.

“Supporting those who recover is a team effort, which requires participation at the local and state levels,” Hunter said. “That’s why we have a strong allegiance to the Chicago Department of Public Health and state funding for multiple recovery programs.”

The FY23 budget includes a total of $98 million for addiction treatment services and $1.7 million for prevention-related services.

The South Side Heroin and Opioid Task Force meets the third Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon. To attend a virtual meeting, subscribe to their email newsletter on the Task Force website.

People can call the Illinois Helpline at 833-234-6343 or text “HELP” to 833234 to receive assistance, including connection to a provider for immediate treatment for opioid use disorder.

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