CHICAGO — As the number of opioid-related deaths soar in Chicago, city officials announced Thursday they would fund drug treatment for another 1,000 residents by spending an additional $700,000.
The city-funded drug treatment programs will be offered by community organizations on the South and West sides through the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago and the Cook County Health Foundation at Cook County Jail, according to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.
"The opioid epidemic is destroying families across the United States and Chicago is no exception,” Emanuel said in a statement. "In Chicago we are combating this epidemic head on, finding new ways to invest in communities, save lives and beat addiction."
The additional money will fund medications that are proven to work like buprenorphine and methadone as well as counseling, help navigating the health system and transportation to get patients to appointments, officials said.
In 2016, there were approximately 684 opioid-related deaths in Chicago, according to data provided by the Cook County Medical Examiners Office.
That represents an increase of nearly 97 percent from 2015, according to the data.
"We're investing in treatment that works, especially in medications that help residents regain independence and overcome addiction,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita. "We must eradicate the stigma of seeking effective treatment so thousands of Chicago residents can live longer, healthier lives.”
In addition, officials said Chicago recently bought $250,000 worth of naloxone, which can be used to reverse opioid overdoses if administered immediately.
That effort saved 1,544 lives, and helped the Chicago Recovery Alliance distribute 4,541 naloxone kits, officials said.
A new law pushed by Emanuel over the objections of the pharmaceutical industry requires sales representatives to be licensed to work in Chicago.
Emanuel has touted the law as the "toughest in the nation."