Lake County Opioid Initiative Police Naloxone Program Marks 50th Life Saved

evzio_device_1_-550c7fb46bc06Lake County Opioid Initiative Police Naloxone Program saved its 50th life as a result of Naloxone administration by law enforcement officials. The save was conducted on behalf of Officer Matt Lyons of the Round Lake Park Police Department on Saturday, January 23, 2016. The save marks his second save; in addition, Officer Lyons was the first officer in Round Lake Park to have saved a life while administering Naloxone to an overdose victim.

“50 lives saved and hundreds of families and friends have been impacted. Change is occurring due to a small group of individuals that came together with an idea. We have achieved our goals beyond our expectations,” said Chief George Filenko, Chief of the Round Lake Park Police Department; Commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and Cofounder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

The Naloxone Police Program was implemented in November 2014. The Lake County Health Department conducted “train-the –trainer” sessions at their facility and also at the Mundelein Police Department.  This allowed for an efficient method of quickly training and equipping Lake County’s law enforcement officers.  The program is a partnership between, nearly 40 Law Enforcement agencies, the Lake County States Attorney’s Office, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County Board, and the Lake County Health Department.

This program has been made possible thanks to generous donations from Kaleo Pharmaceuticals, Medline Industries, and an anonymous donor. A total of 50 lives have been saved in just over a year in Lake County thanks to this program.  The first life saved was by the Deerfield Police Department on Christmas Day, 2014.

“It is fitting that this milestone save was achieved by the department of one of the founding members of our Initiative.  While I am encouraged by, and proud of our progress, one life lost to this epidemic is one too many.  There are however, a lot of people that are alive today that would not be if it weren’t for this wonderful program. I am also proud to be part of a team that cares so deeply about the Lake County community,” said Mike Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney and Cofounder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

The Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force has contributed to the reduction in drug overdose deaths in Lake County. In 2007, two subcommittees of the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association (LCCPA) and the Lake County After School Coalition (LCASC)  joined forces for a better use of resources and a more strategic approach to this countywide issue. They created the Task Force. The mission of the Task Force is ‘to provide leadership and resources to reduce and prevent underage drinking and other youth substance abuse in Lake County’ and their vision is ‘to have a county-wide environment where youth achieve their full potential.’

The Task Force has expanded their prescription drug collection boxes across Lake County in the last four years. There are a total of 27 drug collection boxes located in police departments. Nearly 12,000 pounds of unwanted unused prescription drugs were collected and destroyed in 2015. The 12,000 pounds collected contained nearly 30,000 different kinds of doses of scheduled medication – which has an approximate street value of $750,000. In addition, Lake County has less than 5% of the population of the State of Illinois, yet the LCUDDPTF collected close to 25% of the total amount of unused prescription medication in the State.

The drop boxes are designed to significantly reduce the number of outdated or unneeded prescription drugs in private residences. Unfortunately, these same drugs have become the target of theft and misuse, oftentimes by people who have access to the residence. This has contributed to prescription drugs being the number one substance of abuse for youth, and much of that supply is unwittingly coming from the medicine cabinets of their parents, grandparents, and friends. More and more adults recognize the need to remove these substances from their homes and legally and safely turn them over to law enforcement for proper chain of custody. Law enforcement takes control of and destroys drugs on a regular basis as part of their regular operations.

”One of the biggest things we have seen with these boxes is the reduction in terms of opioid related deaths. We lost 41 people in 2011 when this disposal program was in its infancy. Since then as the number of boxes grew and the weight collected increased, we have seen a steady decline in the number of deaths to a low of 18 in 2015,” said Bruce Johnson, CEO of Nicasa Behavioral Health Services and Cofounder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

Since the inception of these programs, Lake County has significantly reduced their overdose death rates as a result of prescription and heroin misuse and abuse. In 2009 there were 82 opioid-related overdose deaths, compared to 2015 resulting in 63 overdose deaths. Without the implementation of the Naloxone program, Lake County would have had a total of 103 opiate overdose related deaths.

To put these numbers in context, the 2014 U.S. average of opioid related deaths is 13.2 deaths per 100,000 (for a total of 42,117 deaths). The State of Illinois’ overdose death average was at 12.2 per 100,000. In 2014, Lake County was at 9.9. In 2015 with Naloxone Lake County’s death rate fell to 8.4. If the Naloxone program weren’t in place, the death rate would have been 14.6 per 100,000 in 2015.

“Sadly, many people have died for us to get to this point. We owe it to their memories and families to continue fighting for those struggling. These programs are proof that when communities come together to do the right thing, change can occur,” said Chelsea Laliberte, Executive Director of Live4Lali and Cofounder of the Lake County Opioid Initiatve. “As we’ve always said, no one deserves to die from something as preventable and reversible as a drug overdose. With continued awareness and progress, our hope is that every person in Lake County will become aware of the laws, programs and services supporting them.”

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