hands reaching out to each other
Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

I learned how to administer naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversal medication, through the Chicago Recovery Alliance. In 2019, a family member had recently relapsed: though his drug wasn’t dope, that experience made me want to learn more about this miracle med I’d heard of. Most of the attendees were medical workers, but some were just ordinary Chicago civilians, on their own like me. For two hours, we learned about the stigma drug users face, risk factors for overdose, how to recognize warning signs, and how to respond if you think someone has overdosed: lifesaving information, and life-changing.

“Just because an individual uses drugs, they are still capable of making healthy choices and identifying their needs, and we forget to give them autonomy,” explained Jen Andel to me over the phone. “My focus is keeping them safe while they use.” 

Andel, the overdose prevention specialist at CRA, trains individuals and groups “anywhere and everywhere the need is”:  virtually, at methadone clinics, in low-income housing community rooms, and at nightlife hot spots like Metro. There are two types of trainings—one is 60 minutes, and the other, more data dense, is two to three hours. But both cover much of the same material—what an opioid is, what neighborhoods in Chicago experience the highest rates of opioid overdose, and what a safe relationship with drugs can look like. Attendees learn how to administer both nasal and injectable naloxone, and leave with some of each. Both trainings are intended for health-care workers and laypeople alike. 

Chicago Recovery Alliance
To schedule a training, email Jen at jenniferandel@anypositivechange.org

Best of Chicago 2022 is presented by