Overdose Prevention Site Community Engagement Project: AHP Researchers Contribute to Innovative Efforts in Illinois to Address the Opioid Crisis

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently released the Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) Community Engagement Project: June 2020 Report and next steps for OPS sites in Chicago’s West Side neighborhood. This area has some of the highest fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose rates in Illinois. Illinois Department of Public Health data show a total of 2,408 fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses on the West Side in 2018, and a total of 2,568 fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in 2019.  


OPS are legally sanctioned health service facilities that allow people to use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. OPS give people a safe, clean place to use their drugs and access to staff who can step in immediately and respond if an overdose occurs. Studies show that OPS can reduce overdoses, improve public safety, reduce infectious disease risks, and connect people to substance use treatment and recovery support services.  


Advocates for Human Potential, Inc., (AHP) worked with IDHS, Prevention Partnership, and the West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force to implement and evaluate OPS community education and engagement activities on the West Side. AHP’s evaluation found that 86 percent of West Side community members believed an OPS would benefit their community.  


Efforts for establishing an OPS will begin with the creation of a community advisory council to guide community education and engagement efforts and OPS planning activities.  


IDHS awarded AHP funding to assist with the next steps in this important and innovative project.  


“We are excited to announce the next steps in this extremely important initiative in one of the most highly affected areas for overdoses in Illinois,” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “This is the next step in the Overdose Prevention Site Community Engagement Project that Governor [J. B.] Pritzker announced in his executive order earlier this year, and Chicago’s West Side neighborhood can absolutely benefit from these health centers that directly address opioid misuse.”  


Click here to read the full report and analysis of the Overdose Prevention Site Community Engagement Project: https://www.dhs.state.il.us/OneNetLibrary/27896/documents/OPS.pdf  

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