Combating a Deadly Trend

A new initiative aims to reduce prescription drug- and opioid-related deaths in central Illinois through community-wide education and prevention training. Administered by staff at the Human Service Center (HSC), the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program combines outreach, training and distribution of Narcan (naloxone) to combat this deadly trend.

Nationwide, overdose deaths have risen dramatically since 2010, while local officials have seen an additional spike in drug-related overdoses this fall. Last year, Peoria County reported 28 overdose-related deaths, among 1,900 deaths reported statewide, while the U.S. saw more than 65,000 deaths due to accidental overdose, exceeding both car accidents and gun-related deaths.

The HSC program intends to expand awareness and response capacity for all community stakeholders, including treatment providers, law enforcement, emergency responders, educators and social workers, as well as individuals prescribed or illicitly using opioids and their families. “We’ve started providing this service to fire departments, law enforcement, and a variety of community groups: churches, mental health providers, etc.,” explains HSC Community Educator Sue Tisdale. “It includes Narcan training and distribution, all free of charge.”

Program participants will learn who is at risk of overdose, ways to reduce the risk, and signs of opioid withdrawal. The program also covers the essentials for first responders and education about distributing Narcan. Administering the drug quickly after an overdose allows time for emergency responders to provide treatment; once stabilized, the patient can be provided resources and support for substance abuse recovery.

Bystander naloxone administration programs are proven to increase survival rates from an opioid overdose—and this program is already having a positive impact in the area. “We’ve had over 100 reversals with naloxone, and kits are being distributed in the community daily,” notes HSC Program Manager Chrissy Smith.

The HSC provides this program through a grant from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, in partnership with the JOLT Foundation and three other licensed facilities. For more information, call (309) 267-5995 or email stisdale@hscpeoria.org. iBi

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