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Will County Executive Walsh reminds residents of services available to people suffering substance use disorder
Anastasia Tuskey

Will County Executive Walsh reminds residents of services available to people suffering substance use disorder

In light of the recent rise in overdoses and overdose deaths in Will County, County Executive Larry Walsh wants to remind residents of two important programs available to those suffering substance use disorder: Safe Passage and the Narcan Distribution Program.

“We have worked with our partners across the county to set up these lifesaving programs for people who are battling addiction,” Walsh said. “Dr. Kathleen Burke, our director of substance use initiatives, continues to distribute and train anyone and everyone on the use of Narcan and works with our participating police departments through the Safe Passage program to get people into treatment.”

Last weekend, nine people overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl in Joliet and Lockport. Four people in Joliet and one in Lockport died from these overdoses due to extreme potency of fentanyl.

“People do not know what they are using and continue to use at their accustomed levels,” Dr. Burke said. “Because fentanyl is 50 times stronger than cocaine or heroin, people are dying. Substance use is a chronic disease that can be treated but people need to reach out for help.”

Dr. Burke is offering free Narcan to anyone who needs it. She can train family members, any local organization, or anyone from the general public about addiction, the opiate crisis, and how to administer Narcan, or naloxone, a powerful antidote that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

“We want to get Narcan into the hands of as many people as possible,” she said. “Overdoses can happen anywhere at any time so the more Narcan available in our communities, the more lives that can be saved. The Good Samaritan Law protects bystanders who render aid to a person suffering an overdose so I urge people to get trained and carry Narcan.”

Because of the challenges to people accessing treatment, Will County has worked with local police departments and the Sheriff’s’ office to create Safe Passage, a program that directly connects people to treatment. Participants simply go to the partnering police department and ask for help. After a simple interview, which includes a warrant check and search, the participant will be escorted to treatment through Family Guidance Centers.

“We understand that arresting people does not help with this crisis of drug use,” said Lockport Police Chief Terry Lemming. “We have learned addiction is a disease and must be treated not punished. As law enforcement professionals, we are dedicated to serving the public and we are grateful to Will County for creating this important program to help our residents in need.”

These police departments are currently offering the Safe Passage program:

Braidwood, 141 W. Main St. 815-458-2341
Elwood, 401 E. Mississippi Ave., 815-423-5411
Lemont, 14600 127th St, 630-257-2229
Lockport, 1212 S Farrell Rd, 815-838-2131
Mokena, 10907 Front St, 708- 479-3911
New Lenox, 200 Veterans Parkway, 815- 462-6100
Park Forest, 200 Lakewood Blvd., 708-748-4701
Romeoville, 1050 W Romeo Rd, 815-886-7219
Shorewood, 903 W. Jefferson St, 815-725-1460
Will County Sheriff, 16911 W. Laraway Rd, 815-727-8575

Walsh urges anyone suffering substance use disorder to reach out for help. For more information about either of these programs, contact Dr. Burke at kathleenburke@willcountyillinois.com.

“We are losing too many people to overdose death,” Walsh said. “People need to get help and the county is able to offer this assistance.”

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