Opioid overdose crisis sweeps Cook County, prompting urgent action: 'the time to act is now'

Cook County authorities are sounding the alarm over an increase in opioid overdoses in the county. 

In 2022, 2,000 people died of opioid-related causes. Now, the county board’s "Treatment Not Trauma" resolution is hoping to expand county health services.

Under the resolution, up to $1.5 million of the county’s Opioid Settlement Special Purpose Fund would be used to expand addiction treatment, mental health services and provide residents with Narcan, which reverses an overdose.

Cook County commissioners say nearly every family has been impacted by illicit drug use, including their own.

Kevin Morrison, 15th District Commissioner, said he was 18 when he lost his step-brother to a drug overdose.

"The time to act is now," said Morrison.

Health professionals say fentanyl accounts for 90 percent of opioid-related deaths in Cook County. It is also the number one killer of adults from ages 18 to 40 years old. 

"The fact there is no or little access to treatment (in black, brown and underserved communities) is devastating," said 7th District Commissioner Alma Anya.

Cook County officials say that improving public health will directly improve public safety.