Narcotics Diversion Program expanding in Chicago amid increase in overdoses

The Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program is expanding in Chicago amid a citywide increase in drug overdoses.

The program, launched in 2018, is a partnership between the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The NADP is designed to divert individuals arrested for select drug-related offenses away from the criminal justice system and towards treatment and recovery services provided by the city's public health department.


"Arrest diversion programs that link individuals to evidence-based treatment and social support systems have been shown to reduce recidivism and the social costs of substance use disorders at the individual and community level," said Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH Commissioner. "The expansion of this program is a key step to more effectively and equitably addressing this issue."

Individuals who have been arrested and are 18-years or older with no previous violent arrests can choose to have a substance use disorder assessment with a clinician from Thresholds, a community healthcare provider. Those who have been arrested for possession of one gram or less of heroin or cocaine, or were found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia are eligible for the program, CDPH said.

Those who agree to treatment will be referred to an inpatient or outpatient provider for an in-depth assessment, and will be released without charge and taken to a treatment facility.

Also, any individual seeking treatment can be referred to a substance use treatment provider at any one of Chicago's police districts.

The NADP originally launched in CPD's 11th District (Harrison) in 2018. The West Side district is comprised of several lower income neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by overdoses, according to CDPH.

In 2020, the neighborhoods with the highest number of opioid-related EMS responses were Humboldt Park (1,471), Austin (1,433), West Garfield Park (1,137), and East Garfield Park (1,053).


There were over 13,700 opioid-related overdoses in Chicago in 2020, a 31.5% increase over 2019. Of those, 1,299 were fatal, according to provisional data.

Since the program's launch, NADP has expanded into 11 more police districts and will be available in all 22 districts by the end of 2021, public health officials said.