The A Way Program turns 2 this month

AWO LogoThe Lake County Opioid Initiative (LCOI) is proud to announce that the Waukegan Police Department and the Lake Zurich Police Department have been added as entry points for the Lake County Opioid Initiative’s ‘A Way Out’ (AWO) Program. With these additions, there are now a total of thirteen ‘A Way Out’ police entry points across Lake County.
“The City of Waukegan is very grateful for the opportunity to join this program.  This will be another tool that the Waukegan Police Department will have to combat the opioid crisis and further assist our residents and their families in mitigating the direct and indirect effects of opioid abuse,” said Wayne Walles, Waukegan Police Chief.

395 participants have accessed treatment via the ‘A Way Out’ Program

The eleven police departments currently participating in the program include:

  • Deerfield Police Department
  • Fox Lake Police Department
  • Grayslake Police Department
  • Gurnee Police Department
  • Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Marine Unit, Sheriff’s Highway Patrol
  • Lake Forest Police Department
  • Libertyville Police Department
  • Mundelein Police Department
  • Round Lake Beach Police Department
  • Round Lake Park Police Department
  • Zion Police Department

‘A Way Out’ is a program developed by the Lake County Opioid Initiative to create additional treatment access points, reduce crime, reduce substance-related harms, and re-frame the role law enforcement plays in community safety. Through the program, people seeking help for their substance use can go to one of the police entry points and request help. The police work with the Lake County Health Department to find appropriate treatment for the individual. Substance use is a public health problem, and this program addresses it as such.

The current participating police departments have helped 395 individuals access treatment since ‘A Way Out’s’ inception on June 1, 2016. The total number of individuals helped into a treatment provider by year are:

  • 60 individuals in 2016
  • 209 individuals in 2017
  • 96 individuals up to May 2018

AWO’s largest residential and outpatient treatment providers are: Gateway Lake Villa, the Lake County Health Department, Chicago Behavioral Health Hospital, and NICASA Behavioral Health Services. Furthermore, AWO is averaging just over 15 participants per month – with September 2017 being the largest served month as 34 participants accessed treatment.

  • Approximately, 78% of AWO’s total placement is to residential treatment programs
  • The average age of the participant is 32.5 years old.

“The Lake Zurich Police Department is looking forward to being able to offer treatment options to those who need them through the ‘A Way Out’ program. This is a vital community care-taking function that the Department is committed to,” said Steve Husak, Lake Zurich Police Department.

The Lake County Opioid Initiative is committed to developing, implementing, evaluating and sustaining a multi-strategy county-wide effort to prevent opioid abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.

In addition to the ‘A Way Out’ program, the Lake County Opioid Initiative has launched other programs to help support citizens impacted by the opioid epidemic. The Police Naloxone Program has saved 262 lives since December 25, 2014. Text-A-Tip, a digital crisis intervention service, has received a total of 17,039 texts since September 30, 2015. Finally, the Lake County Opioid Initiative has collaborated with community leaders to bring prevention education information to parents and students. In the year 2018, a total of five opioid/heroin prevention education programs have been conducted across Lake County.

LCOI also supports a network of prescription disposal boxes in Lake County. Partnerships include: Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO); municipal law enforcement, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Lake County Health Department, the Lake County Opioid Initiative, and the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force. In the year 2017, over 13,000 pounds of unwanted/unused prescription drugs were collected.

To raise funds to continue accessibility of these programs, the Lake County Opioid Initiative will be hosting its first annual ‘Save a Life’ fundraising event at the Double-Tree by Hilton in Mundelein, IL on September 14, 2018 at 6:30pm.

For more information regarding the ‘A Way Out’ program, please visit www.awayoutlc.org.

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