The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has announced that the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances has reached 10,000 calls. The 24-hour helpline is confidential, free and provides caring and non-judgmental support to people with substance use disorders, families and anyone who needs help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing opioid use disorder, call the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP or visit HelplineIL.org.

The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances launched in December 2017 and has been connecting callers with treatment for opioid and other substance use disorders ever since. In addition to the phone line, IDHS launched the Illinois Helpline website, ILHelpline.org, in June last year and it has been visited over 14,000 times.

"With over 10,000 calls to the helpline and overwhelming engagement online, we know there is a dire need for us to address the opioid crisis head-on," said Deputy Governor Sol Flores. "Expanding access to treatment for opioid use disorder is a top priority for the new administration and we are committed to working with communities across the state to ensure Illinoisans get the help they need."

The Illinois Department of Public Health's data shows that opioid overdoses killed 2,202 people in Illinois in 2017 alone – more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 50.

Illinois continues to implement measures aimed at combating the opioid crisis and reducing the amount of deaths that result from opioid overdoses. IDHS has expanded a successful program that helps patients with opioid use disorder at hospitals receive immediate treatment after their hospital visits.

The IDHS Hospital Warm Hand-off Program connects recovery support specialists directly to patients with opioid use disorder while they are in the hospital recovering from an overdose or receiving other hospital treatment. With the advent of the Helpline, hospital social workers now have clear access to resources for discharge planning. In addition, the Warm Hand-off Program goes beyond providing a written referral or scheduling an appointment. It establishes a collaborative relationship between the patient and the recovery support specialist, providing practical, personalized support for entering and adhering to treatment and delivering ongoing recovery support services.

Five IDHS providers currently operate the program in 14 hospitals and multiple Cook County Health and Hospital System locations in Illinois. It has successfully connected 75 percent of participants (1,095 individuals) to treatment for substance use disorders since its inception. IDHS will now partner directly with eight new hospitals to join the program from cities across the state.

The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Opioid State Targeted Response grant administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery.

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