Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-04-26
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicago has an opioid epidemic, local agencies battle growing crisis
by David Thill
2017-03-15

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


High-profile opioid-related deaths in recent years, including the singer Prince, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Glee's Cory Monteith have focused widespread attention on an epidemic affecting cities across the nation, including Chicago.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office found that in 2015, Cook County had 609 opioid-related overdose deaths, 403 of which were in Chicago. Though heroin is often blamed, overprescribing of opioids by physicians—particularly pain relievers such as methadone, oxycodone ( including Oxycontin ), and hydrocodone ( including Vicodin )—is contributing significantly to addiction and overdose deaths.

Additionally, prescription opioids often act as a gateway to heroin, the presence of which has recently become apparent to many in the Windy City.

"Heroin Highway"

The Night Ministry has long been known for its youth housing programs ( including the predominantly LGBT homeless youth shelter, the Crib ) and its health outreach bus. In 2016, the organization launched its Street Medicine team to reach, by foot, those pockets of the city that the nearly 40-foot-long bus cannot.

Heroin is commonly injected via intravenous ( IV ) needle, a resource that clients have not requested of the outreach bus. ( Many organizations distribute clean needles in efforts to quell the spread of infectious diseases transmitted through unclean needles. ) But when the Street Medicine team began its work, it was a "whole new world," said David Wywialowski, director of outreach and health ministry at The Night Ministry.

"We're seeing an … enormous increase in IV drug users, from what we saw just one year ago," said Jeff Ayoub, an outreach professional on the Street Medicine team. He has seen a rise in particular of young people from Chicago suburbs who are now homeless and using heroin. That number, he said, keeps growing.

On the day alone that Windy City Times spoke with him, Ayoub estimated seeing about a dozen IV drug users in their 20s, some as young as 22. He figured the average IV user served by the Street Medicine team is in their mid-20s to mid-30s.

In recent years, the Eisenhower Expressway has been nicknamed the "Heroin Highway," a reference to the easy path for the drug to travel from the city to the Western suburbs. "It is indeed a myth that the problem of drug abuse, specifically heroin abuse, is that of the poor inner cities," said a 2012 News Chicago article.

Having seen the effects of the opioid epidemic firsthand, The Night Ministry is now one of several agencies throughout the city working to mitigate the problem.

The antidote

Partnering with Chicago Recovery Alliance, a West Side harm reduction outreach program, the Street Medicine team started passing out supplies to individuals in need. Aside from clean syringes, alcohol wipes, and gauze, the outreach team also passes out vials of naloxone: the medication, injected into the outer thigh, that acts as an antidote against opioid overdose. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, naloxone could save the life of someone who has overdosed.

In a survey conducted at the end of 2016, the Street Medicine team documented 121 people whose lives had been saved by naloxone. The medication plays a part in treatment programs throughout the city.

Howard Brown Health offers a range of services for patients experiencing addiction, said Cori Blum, M.D., site medical director of Howard Brown Health Sheridan and Broadway Youth Center. These services range from harm reduction practices such as distribution of clean needles, to physical and behavioral health treatment, to distribution of and counseling in the use of naloxone for patients.

Dan Bigg, director of Chicago Recovery Alliance, said that his agency treats a wide range of individuals. In October, the City of Chicago granted the organization $250,000 to distribute the antidote in the communities hardest hit by the epidemic, such as those on the West Side. Bigg noted that this was the first time in 20 years Chicago Recovery Alliance received government funding.

Chicago Recovery Alliance has several sites throughout the city—listed on its website, AnyPositiveChange.org—where anyone can go to receive training in the proper use of naloxone in order to be prepared to respond if they witness an overdose.

The FDA also provides precautions for patients to follow should their doctors prescribe an opioid.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Plaintiff Seeks to Unseal Video of California 'Prop 8' Marriage Equality Trial 2017-04-28 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil ...


Gay News

Lawmakers reintroduce Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act 2017-04-28 - WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and Patty Murray ( D-WA ), along with Congressman Mark Pocan ( D-WI ...


Gay News

Chay Reed, a Black transgender woman, killed in Miami, NCAVP responds 2017-04-27 - NCAVP mourns the homicide of Chay Reed, a Black transgender woman killed in Miami, Florida; the 9th reported killing of a transgender person ...


Gay News

Undocumented and unafraid: Chicagoan speaks out against ICE raids 2017-04-26 - On April 19, the Chicago City Council overwhelmingly passed a measure that would allow the city's undocumented community the opportunity to obtain municipal ...


Gay News

National groups respond to WCT's DCFS investigation 2017-04-26 - Several national advocacy organizations responded to Windy City Times' three-part investigation into Illinois DCFS and children welfare agencies nationwide removing transgender or gender ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal's Bon Foster event honors advocate 2017-04-26 - The Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal held its annual Bon Foster celebration April 20 at Morgan MFG. The annual event honors Robert ...


Gay News

National roundup: Idaho trans suit, skydiver case, Aaron Hernandez 2017-04-25 - Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging Idaho's refusal to allow transgender people to correct the gender on their birth certificates, according to ...


Gay News

World news: Nigerian arrests, lesbians attacked, Chechnya items 2017-04-25 - Nigerian prosecutors have charged 53 men with conspiracy to organize a gay wedding and related crimes punishable by up to 14 years in ...


Gay News

Reports: GOP urges Trump to reverse Obama-era protections 2017-04-25 - Republican congressmen, on April 5, urged President Donald Trump to rethink advancing his administration's February executive order that would have enshrined a number ...


Gay News

Madigan lauds hate-crimes legislation after House passage 2017-04-25 - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, on April 25, lauded the House passage of HB 3711, a measure significantly expanding the state's hate crimes ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.