Opioid Epidemic Response: Chicago Department of Health Announces New Hotline to Help People Struggling with Addiction

CHICAGO (WLS) — The opioid epidemic continues to plague the Chicago area and on Friday city leaders announced efforts to help those seeking help.

The city’s top doctor, Allison Arwady, pointed to the staggering statistics.

“For every 3 to 4 Chicagoans who die of COVID in that first year, another Chicagoan died of an opioid overdose,” Arwady said.

She added that in recent years, more Chicagoans have died from fatal opioid overdoses than from homicides and car accidents combined.

RELATED: Opioid Crisis: US Overdose Deaths Reach Record 107,000 Last Year, CDC Says

Arwady joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown as they announced the success of a recent drug trafficking investigation.

Several members and associates of a Chicago street gang were arrested on the West Side last week, according to Lightfoot.

Those arrested are charged with conspiring to distribute illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

“We arrested over 30 offenders. Recovered over 15 firearms and ammunition. Over 250 rounds. And took drugs, often mixed with Fentynal…on the street,” said the police commissioner of Chicago, David Brown.

Police also recovered several hundred thousand dollars in cash, Brown added.

Ten face federal charges.

“Overall, this takedown is the result of a multi-year joint federal and local investigation into drug trafficking,” Lightfoot said.

The investigation also helped shut down three “outdoor drug markets” in West Garfield Park, as well as numerous firearms removed from the streets.

RELATED: Governor JB Pritzker announces plan to prevent deaths from opioid addiction

“But, above all, we have given the streets back to the people who live there,” Lightfoot said. “Now that these people have been detained, we need to step in to further support the community with positive resources to make it even safer.”

“We’re giving back to residents what was stolen from them,” Brown added.

Among the announcements, city leaders also revealed the city’s new efforts to bring more safety and security to communities.

“We’re working to rebuild that sense of safety and security until every person on this block feels it,” Brown said.

“We have to step in and fill a void,” Lightfoot added.

The plan includes “comprehensive support services”.

“Visibility, engagement and collaboration are at the heart of our efforts,” Brown said.

“Opioid overdoses are the fifth cause of our racial life expectancy gap,” Arwady said. “Opioid overdoses are landing in all parts of this city, but they’re landing especially hard in predominantly black communities and especially hard on the West Side.”

Arwady said a new Chicago hotline can help connect people struggling with addiction to find the help and resources they need. This hotline is: 833-234-6343.

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