When a police officer saves a heroin user’s life with an overdose reversal drug, the question often becomes: What next?
The user is living and breathing, but the addiction may still be raging.
Some heroin users, saved once by a cop with a dose of naloxone, Evzio or Narcan, wind up overdosing again and need an officer to step in for another “save,” as law enforcement leaders call it.
Since December 2014 Lake County officers have made 65 such rescues.
“We began to understand that’s just simply not enough,” said George Filenko, a leader of the Lake County Opioid Initiative. “We’ve got to take individuals and assist them into taking that other step into rehab … so we don’t have repeat patients.”
Police departments across the suburbs are beginning to agree. Several are developing programs in which officers serve as a connection between residents in the throes of heroin addiction and treatment centers that exist to help them. The programs come with varying levels of anonymity and immunity from arrest for drug possession. But they all come with the same goal: Take lifesaving a step further and help addicts progress toward recovery.