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Illinois Plan

The United States is in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis in its history. Fueled by the growing opioid epidemic, drug overdoses have now become the leading cause of death nationwide for people under the age of 50. There were an estimated 107,891 overdose deaths in 2021, the highest number of overdose fatalities ever recorded in a 12-month period. This increase began before the COVID-19 pandemic but accelerated throughout 2020 and 2021.

In Illinois, more than 3,000 people died of overdoses in 2021. Beyond these deaths are thousands of non-fatal overdoses resulting in emergency department visits, hospital stays, as well as the pain suffered by individuals, families, and communities. The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health and public safety crises facing Illinois.

Polysubstance use and dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are responsible for an increasing number of deaths. Synthetic opioids can be thousands of times more poisonous than heroin. To save lives, it is important to reach out and to engage individuals at risk for both fatal and non-fatal overdose due to multiple drugs and to address the social inequities that underlie the racial disparities in overdose deaths.

On March 21, 2022, Governor Pritzker announced the launch of The Statewide Overdose Action Plan; the state’s collective call to action. The opioid crisis affects everyone in some way. Its victims are of all ages, races, and walks of life. The causes of the epidemic are complex, and state government must work with everyone — health care providers, local agencies, law enforcement, community groups, individual citizens, and national partners — toward a solution.

The focus of these efforts is to save lives. Action must be taken to halt this explosive growth.

This Overdose Action Plan focuses on five priority recommendation categories and is the strategic framework for moving toward the goal of reducing overdose deaths in Illinois:

  1. Social Equity
  2. Prevention
  3. Treatment and Recovery
  4. Harm Reduction
  5. Justice-Involved Populations and Public Safety