Lake County Community Harm Reduction Call to Action
3255 N Arlington Heights
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
19 February 2021
Dear Lake County Illinois Stakeholders and Community Members,
Overdose deaths in Lake County have skyrocketed to a 34% increase from 2019 to 2020, which is even more shocking when compared to the 3% increase seen in the previous year*. This data is too deadly to be ignored. The surge in overdose is undoubtedly due in part to the social isolation related to the pandemic, as well as an ever-changing drug market, but that does not mean we are powerless to intervene.
This is a critical time, and it is imperative that Lake County mobilize community-based programs to help stem the tide of increased overdose. Harm reduction, street outreach, and naloxone distribution programs are immediately available interventions that can and do make a difference, both in the quality of life and mortality reduction rates for participants.
From July to the start of September, Live4Lali’s mobile outreach bordering North Chicago and Waukegan provided overdose reversal education and distributed 684 doses of the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, alongside 2,370 fentanyl test strips to help prevent an overdose before it begins. That’s over 3,000 distributed opportunities to keep someone alive, in a mere two months of street-based harm reduction services operating out of one single location.
Specific action recommendations:
• Strategically focused and equitable naloxone distribution to communities with the highest rates of overdose, including linkage to harm reduction services and treatment services as appropriate.
• Partnerships within the county between treatment professionals, addictionologists, housing, mental health professionals and harm reduction programs that will assist in providing a pathway into treatment and stability when the person is ready.
Live4Lali is requesting your support in endorsing our return to the community to provide street-based harm reduction outreach to the towns hit hardest by overdoses in Lake County. Effective, life-saving interventions exist and we will do all we can to help expand these opportunities, starting with the most affected communities. Services offered by the Live4Lali mobile harm reduction program include treatment navigation and transportation, naloxone and fentanyl test strip training and distribution, safe using supplies to prevent the spread of blood born pathogens, personal care items including hand sanitizer and masks, food and beverages, and most importantly — connection to someone who is willing to meet them where they are at.
Together, we can mitigate this devastating increase in overdoses with evidence-based practices delivered kindly, holistically and compassionately.
* Data courtesy of Lake County Coroner's Office
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