Sheriff launches Awareness Initiative on Opioid Crisis

Nov 30, 2017Press Release

COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart launched an awareness campaign on social media today, aiming to shed light on the devastating opioid crisis while giving the public a better understanding of its victims and tools to help those in need.

The Sheriff’s Awareness Initiative’s first video installment tells the story of a woman who says her use of prescription opioids led to a powerful heroin addiction that cost her everything. The anonymous woman volunteered to participate in the initiative while in a treatment program at the Cook County Department of Corrections. She said she wanted to share her story to warn others about the power of prescription opioids and the dangers of abuse.

The video can be found at and During the coming months, the Sheriff’s Office will periodically release additional stories, videos and pictures on social media to convey important messages about the crisis.

“Every day we work with people swept up by devastating opioid addictions. To confront this crisis, we all need to better understand its scope, the human beings impacted and – for those not yet impacted – how close it is to all of us,” Dart said. “While only one part of the solution, informing the public and changing minds is an important battlefront in the war we face.”

The Sheriff’s Awareness Initiative is just one element of the Office’s response to the crisis. Several substance abuse programs both inside and outside the jail address hundreds of individuals in custody for addiction on a daily basis. The Office also partners with the Cook County Health and Hospitals System to distribute life-saving naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, to at-risk individuals in custody upon release. More than 1,000 kits have been distributed since August of 2016.

More than 2 million people across the nation have an opioid use disorder, whether to heroin or prescription pills, according to estimates by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Meanwhile, opioid overdose deaths have dramatically increased in recent years, fueled in part by a spike in the availability of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.