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West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force Update

July 1, 2022 marked the beginning of Year 4 for Prevention Partnership’s coordinating role with the West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force. Convened in 2016 by State Representative La Shawn K. Ford, IL-8, the Task Force brings together community- based agencies, faith-based organizations, governmental entities, recovery groups, health care providers and persons with lived experience to confront opioid overdoses and resultant deaths in Chicago’s West Side communities.

At the close of Year 3, the Task Force accomplishments included:

  • Expanding to over 600 members including West Side substance use and mental health treatment providers, housing organizations, advocacy groups, harm reduction organizations, business, and faith leaders, PWUD, and state, county and city agencies and legislators.

  • Training over 5,000 residents on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose and distributing over 10,000 doses of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug.

  • Expanding and refining the direct intervention street outreach effort, with over 10 collaborating agencies providing “warm handoffs” to treatment, including Medicine-Assisted Recovery, and other services.

  • Established a “Sobering Center” Pilot site in collaboration with UIC’s Community Intervention Outreach Program (COIP)

In year 4 we will continue the work noted above and

  • Support the expansion of Harm Reduction Services with programs like the Sobering Center and Overdose Prevention Sites.

  • Establishing a directory of Recovery Residences on the West Side.

  • Confronting the deadly impact a drug supply of containing fentanyl, and opiate 50 -100 times the strength of heroin.

Throughout our many months of work with this Task Force, we have found that West Side residents and service providers are ever more focused on doing what is needed to confront the overdose epidemic. “Our partners, especially those who may still be using, realize that we must all work together to save lives, to encourage family and friends to get help when needed, and to support recovery”, says Luther Syas, P2 Co-Founder and Task Force Outreach Director, “and we will work along-side them every step of the way.”


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