Author Archives: lakecountytaskforce

Award Winning Goodness!

AWO LogoToday we are pleased to announce that the Lake County Opioid Initiative won a national award from the Addiction Policy Forum for the A Way Out program. States Attorney Mike Nerheim and LCOI Executive Director Bill Gentes accepted the award in Springfield earlier today.

Read about what the Addiction Policy Forum said about the program in this article on their website. (Link is here)


One of America’s richest families is accused of profiting from the nation’s opioid crisis

cnn_logo_2449(CNN)–A court ruling Monday in Massachusetts will expose details about one of America’s richest families and their connection to the nation’s opioid crisis.

The Sacklers and members of their company Purdue Pharma have been named in a lawsuit that accuses them of profiting from the opioid crisis by aggressively marketing OxyContin, claims denied by attorneys for the family and Purdue.
The suit had been heavily redacted, but on Monday, Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders ruled that the unredacted amended complaint must be publicly released by February 1.

In the order, Sanders calls the defense’s protests “hardly compelling” enough to keep the information secret, adding that it is not intensely personal or private.

A group of hospitals have built a nonprofit generic drugmaker

Hospitals have a creative plan to tackle the high price and frequent shortages of generic drugs. The nonprofit company, dubbed Civica Rx, was first announced in early 2018, and has gained a lot of attention from other hospitals around the US who are interested in being a part of the venture.

On Monday, the organization said that another 12 health systems had joined its ranks, including Illinois and Wisconsin-based Advocate Aurora Health, Michigan’s Spectrum Health, and NYU Langone Health. Together, they make add another 250 hospitals to the venture.

For more follow this link.

Lake County Teens get mental health support with the introduction of countywide 24/7 Text to Tip Crisis Hotline!

IMG_0125LEAD, a Lake Forest based non-profit, is expanding its 24/7 anonymous Text-A-Tip program to include all communities in Lake County, IL. After successfully launching in Lake Forest/Lake Bluff the system has been extended to include towns along the North Shore and recently became available in McHenry County.

Text-A-Tip provides a 24/7 anonymous text-communication system to youth needing immediate mental health assistance for themselves or a friend. Members of the community can send a text message to a dedicated number and receive an immediate response from a licensed clinician while remaining completely anonymous. The anonymity makes it a comfortable place for students to share and provides a safe outlet for voicing concerns about themselves and others.

“Thanks to the efforts of LEAD, Text-A-Tip has been hugely successful in offering youth an innovative way to seek help,” said Michael G. Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney. “I am excited to bring this program to the entire county and provide the people of Lake County a vehicle by which they can get support anonymously. This will, without a doubt, save lives.”

“Text-A-Tip was created to give young people an outlet for anonymous, immediate help for themselves or their friends,” said Andy Duran (pictured above), executive director of LEAD. “Whether struggling with depression, drug or alcohol abuse, bullying or challenging family issues, we allow them to reach out for help using their preferred method of communication – text messaging.”

How It Works:

Each community receives a unique ID which routes messages, in real-time, to a local on-call response team. All messages are sent through an offsite cloaking server that keeps the communication completely anonymous.

Anyone in Lake County wishing to use the system will simply text the phrase “LAKECO” to 274637.

Who Responds to the Texts?

The Response Team for Lake County consists of licensed/certified mental health professionals from Barrington Behavioral Health & Wellness who are on-call 24/7 to respond to messages. On-call clinicians from both their Barrington and Lake Zurich offices are responsible for responding appropriately to each communication and for following up whenever necessary. In the case of a life-threatening condition or criminal activity, emergency responders will be notified.

LEAD is proud to partner with the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center, Lake County Opioid Initiative, Lake County Regional Office of Education, Barrington Behavioral Health & Wellness and The Child, Adolescent and Family Recovery Center to bring this initiative to the whole of Lake County. Carol Calabresa, Lake County Board Vice-Chair, was responsible for securing funding for the expansion of Text-A-Tip into Lake County through the Lake County Board.

For more information, visit or call (847) 295-9075.

About LEAD

LEAD™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to parents and other adults and their role in the promotion of healthy family relationships and the prevention of alcohol, drug use, and other risky behavior by youth. LEAD has served the Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood, IL communities (population 30,000) for nearly 30 years, and now conducts trainings, workshops and presentations for both youth and adults all over the country.

Second Donation of Naloxone Made to Help Save Lives in Lake County

The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and Lake County officials on Tuesday honored a pharmaceutical company for a second donation of a drug administered by law enforcement that has already assisted in saving 33 lives throughout Lake County.

Virginia-based kaléo is matching last year’s donation of 3,000 kits of EVZIO (naloxone HCI injection), to the Health Department. Each kit contains two single-dose EVZIO auto-injectors containing the drug naloxone and a trainer for practice. In cooperation with the Lake County Opioid Initiative, the Health Department’s Substance Abuse Program provides training to police officers in Lake County who in turn train their peers. The trained officers carry the auto-injectors in their squad cars and use them to administer naloxone when responding to a call of a suspected opioid overdose.  Voice and visual cues help to guide each officer through the injection process. The naloxone temporarily reverses the effect of an opioid, keeping the victim breathing until emergency aid arrives.

“Lake County is facing a serious heroin problem. By putting these auto-injectors into the hands of police officers and first responders, victims are given a second chance at life,” Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said. “We are very thankful for this donation that will truly save lives.”

Heroin deaths have increased sharply in many states, according to a report of death certificate data from 28 states published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two things appear to be driving the increase in heroin overdoses: (1) widespread prescription opioid exposure and increasing rates of opioid addiction; and (2) increased heroin supply. Heroin often costs less than prescription opioids and is increasingly available.

“Fifty-nine opioid deaths took place in Lake County in 2014,” said the Health Department’s Executive Director Tony Beltran. “We are grateful to kaléo for helping the County address this growing concern.”

Accepting the honor on Tuesday was Mark A. Herzog, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, for kaléo.  “We are pleased to be making this donation as part of our commitment to widen access to naloxone,” he said. “We are honored to support the outstanding efforts of the local law enforcement community to help save the lives of those who are experiencing an opioid overdose.”

Illinois House Overrides Govenors Veto of Heroin Bill 105-5


Many thanks to leadership from Rep Lang and Yingling on the House override vote of the Guv’s veto of HB0001 (Heroin Bill). Not all the work is done, the Senate has to vote on it within 15 days.

UPDATE: The Senate vote is scheduled for this Wednesday the 9th.

Neuqua High School Students Produce Documentary About Drugs

Following several fatal drug overdoses at her school, one student decided she’d had enough. Kelly McCutcheon created a documentary about drugs like heroin and they’re popularity at Neuqua Valley High School.

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day

Profile3International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Overdose Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Wear Silver to show your support. The theme for 2015 is Rethink and Remember.

Lake County Opioid Initiative leaders present at national conference

IL_DHLeaders of the Lake County Opioid Initiative were invited by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to talk about the program at a national conference in Indianapolis this week, officials said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim and Chelsea Laliberte, executive director of Live4Lali, discussed the initiative at the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies’ 43rd Annual Conference, officials said in a news release Wednesday.

Laliberte was invited to describe how the opioid initiative was developed, highlighting the overdose prevention program for first responders, officials said. She also discussed the epidemic of opioids and their effect on the brain and body, and addiction and overdose prevention, officials said.

Nerheim presented on legal issues related to outfitting first responders with Naloxone and the Illinois Good Samaritan Overdose Law, officials said.

From the Daily Herald.

White House Drug Policy Office Funds New Projects in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas

Washington, D.C. – Today, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, announced $13.4 million in funding for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).  Of that, $5 million will be directed to a broad range of efforts that will reduce the trafficking, distribution, and use of heroin – a drug that has emerged as a serious threat to multiple regions of the United States.

In particular, $2.5 million will fund the Heroin Response Strategy, an unprecedented partnership among five regional HIDTA programs — Appalachia, New England, Philadelphia/Camden, New York/New Jersey, and Washington/Baltimore — to address the severe heroin threat facing those communities through public health-public safety partnerships across 15 states.

“The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program helps Federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate drug enforcement operations, support prevention efforts and improve public health and safety,” said Director Botticelli.  “The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue. This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”

Nearly $4 million in HIDTA funds will support prevention efforts in 18 regional HIDTA programs, many of which draw upon key partnerships between law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in public health and education.

In recognition of the unique drug challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in the region along the U.S.–Mexico border, $1.3 million in HIDTA funds will be directed to the five regional HIDTA programs along the Southwest border.  These funds will be used to enhance investigative efforts against large-scale transnational criminal organizations, reduce the flow of dangerous drugs (including heroin and methamphetamine) across the border, and prevent drug use in border communities.

Nearly $500,000 will be directed toward addressing drug threats on tribal lands.  Regional HIDTA programs in six states will receive funding to investigate and dismantle the organizations that exploit tribal communities to traffic and distribute dangerous drugs.

Background on the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program

Created by Congress in 1988, the HIDTA program serves as a catalyst for coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions of the United States. Law enforcement organizations working within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking issues and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, distribution, and chronic use of drugs and money laundering. There are currently 28 HIDTAs located in 48 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

Background on the 15-State Heroin Response Strategy:

The Heroin Response Strategy will foster a collaborative network of public health-public safety partnerships to address the heroin/opioid epidemic from multiple perspectives. The Strategywill enhance the efficacy and efficiency of the criminal intelligence process in support of cooperative law enforcement operations. The five HIDTAs will create a 15-state network of experienced, connected law enforcement contacts and leverage these connections and information-gathering capabilities with a strong, complementary, analytical capacity.

The five HIDTAs will select two centrally located Regional Coordinators, one with a public health focus and the other with a public safety focus, who will manage and oversee implementation and operation of the Heroin Response Teams. The Public Health Coordinator will oversee regional reporting of fatal and non-fatal overdose information and issuing of relevant alerts regarding dangerous batches of heroin and other heroin-related threats to health authorities. This will mobilize a rapid public health response to distribute naloxone or expand resources in the affected areas, helping to mitigate the number of overdoses and prevent deaths. The Public Safety Coordinator will oversee execution of public safety goals by ensuring case support is provided where needed and intelligence is being disseminated to relevant law enforcement authorities to enable disruption of the heroin supply.

A heroin and prescription opioid training curriculum will be developed and used to prepare rural and municipal officers and first responders who are inexperienced responding to heroin and prescription opioid-related incidents. To assist communities in coping with this escalating problem, the five HIDTAs will developEducation & Training strategies that will increase awareness of heroin and opiate addiction, create linkages to available prevention and treatment resources in the respective regions, and enable first-responders to know how to report all pertinent lead information developed from seizures and overdose responses.

The Heroin Response Strategy builds upon the successes of the 2014 symposium hosted by the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA.  Each year, the five HIDTAs will host two, two-day State of the Region symposia at a jointly nominated HIDTA.  These symposia will build additional structure within each respective HIDTA region for the attendees to maintain regular contact and continue their public health-public safety partnerships between symposia. The aim will be to facilitate collaboration between public health and public safety partners within and across jurisdictions, sharing best practices, innovative pilots, and identifying new opportunities to leverage resources.

Background on the Administration’s National Drug Policy

The Obama Administration’s drug policy treats the national drug challenge as both a public health and public safety issue.  This approach is built upon the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented and treated, and from which one can recover. The Administration has directed Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, support the millions of Americans in recovery, and pursue “smart on crime” approaches to drug enforcement.

For more information about the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, visit:

For information on the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, visit: