CHICAGO - Hundreds of people are getting trained on how to save lives on the West Side. That’s because advocates say there are more opioid overdoses on the West Side of Chicago than anywhere else in the state.
State Representative LaShawn Ford secured a $350,000 state grant to help pay for advocacy on the West Side, which includes training residents to use Naloxone.
The drug reverses an overdose caused by heroin, fentanyl, and some prescription drugs like hydrocodone.
Advocates are training people on the street, on known drug blocks, and in classrooms. Participants also get free Naloxone, also known as Narcan.
Francisco Yanez was one of the couple dozen people being trained in a community room earlier this month. He told FOX 32 he’s overdosed on heroin and opioids 15 times and has been saved every time when someone used Naloxone on him.
“I was looking for the high and now it's gone,” said Yanez, while explaining what being saved by Naloxone feels like. “I’m angry, why did you do that?”
Yanez has his master's in cinema production and is working towards his Ph.D. He is now 4 months clean.
Thanks to $350,000 grant secured by Rep. LaShawn Ford, advocates have trained hundreds of people since the summer on how to use the kits, which include needles and small vials of Naloxone.
“In Austin, you are more likely to see overdoses in emergency rooms than any other community in the state of Illinois,” said Rep. Ford of the 8th District.
He started the West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force in 2016. The same year, a study by Roosevelt University reported 23 percent of all opioid-related hospitalizations across the state, happened on the West Side.
“I think every house should have a smoke detector there to help save lives in case there's a fire, and I think every house should have Narcan in case there's an overdose,” said Ford.
Ford says he wants to expand the program and will work to get more funding. Yanez says Naloxone works, he's proof and this training will save lives.
“It is a very effective approach if we reach the right people,” said Yanez.
Naloxone can be purchased at your local pharmacy and most insurance helps pay for it.
December Naloxone Trainings:
Chicago Recovering Communities Coalition
- 501 n. Central Avenue (enter on race street)
- Dec. 13, 2019
- Noon-2 p.m.
Life-changing community outreach
- 5900 w. North avenue
- Dec. 21, 2019
- 11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Please note: training sessions for organizations, clubs, churches and other groups can be scheduled on-demand with 2 weeks notice. To schedule, contact Luther Syas, Director of Outreach for the West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force (773) 230-7281.