Challenge

Eric’s suburban Chicago police department started to see a spike in heroin and prescription drug use. What officers reported, however, was that they were returning to some homes as many as three times to reverse overdoses. They wanted to figure out how to provide help on the front end, before the overdose.

Solution

Eric reached out to seven other police chiefs in the county to come up with a strategy to divert drug users from the criminal justice system to health treatment. That concept became The Way Out program through which drug users can walk into a police station and ask for help without fear of being handcuffed.

The police departments partner with the county health department to screen drug users through a 24-hour crisis line to get them to appropriate care (i.e. inpatient, outpatient, or hospital). The Way Out Program launched June 1, 2016, and now averages 12 cases per month.

Eric also became part of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a collective of roughly 70 groups that come together monthly to discuss strategies. He became co-leader of the first responders group and the department launched a Naloxone program in which all law enforcement responders were trained to administer the drug that reverses an overdose. Over three years, the program has reversed 170 overdoses.

For the rest of the article go here…