January 10, 2019

Cook County Health (CCH) and the Office of the Chief Judge (OCJ) are expanding their efforts to reduce the prevalence of opioid addiction in the Adult Probation Department (APD) in Cook County. Universal Opioid Screening in Adult Probation to Reduce Usage and Overdose will engage activities around opioid addiction and facilitate training for probation officers and staff, inter-agency partnerships for screening, assessment, and coordination of care of opioid use of probationers, and program evaluation.

Illinois Department of Human Services indicated 80% overdose deaths in 2016 were due to opiates and almost 50% were in Cook County. In 2016 there were more than 12,000 positive drug tests reported for APD clients. Of these, nearly 10,000 were positive for a single substance, more than 1,600 positive tests for two substances, and more than 500 positive tests for three substances. Overall 60% of the two-drug tests and 98% of the three-drug tests included a positive for opiates. Of all positive tests, including multiple drug results, opiates were indicated in 19.5%. Approximately 70% of probationers in Cook County identify drug treatment as a need, but probation officers with high caseloads often face barriers to effective referral and follow-up.

In APD, staff will have training of prevalence and early intervention of opioid use. CCH social workers will partner with APD to screen for opioid use using the CAT-MH and TCU Drug Screen. The effort will ensure the care should not become something that becomes a punitive condition of probation.

The project will coordinate a data-driven process to best evaluate how probationers are connected to comprehensive opioid treatment during their probation supervision, in an effort to reduce opioid addiction and increase community support systems for this vulnerable population.