Groundbreaking and heartbreaking.
Those are a couple of the words Mayor Craig Johnson used Friday to describe parts of Elk Grove Village's opioid addiction program set to roll out as soon as next month. Though details remain under wraps for now, Johnson has been hinting for weeks about ways the village intends to use the $500,000 it's allocated for the program's inaugural year.
"We're not reinventing the wheel, but we're putting a lot of wheels together to make a comprehensive program," Johnson said.
The village has been studying opioid treatment and prevention programs across the country and here in the Chicago suburbs, assessing what has worked and what has not. But certain aspects will be new and groundbreaking -- though Johnson declined to elaborate on specifics for now.
The result will be a program that helps those suffering with addiction, their families and community members affected by opioids and heroin addiction, Johnson said.
Lake County already has established the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a program designed by the state's attorney office, police and drug addiction experts. And DuPage County just recently contributed $100,000 for substance abuse treatment and a specialty drug court for first-time offenders.
Johnson hopes that efforts like these and the village's program can spread to other local governments across the country to respond to the crisis comprehensively.
"One town by itself is not going to solve the problem, but it's got to start somewhere," Johnson said.
Skeptics have already voiced concerns about using village tax dollars, Johnson said. He argues solving -- or at least reducing -- the crisis can actually reduce government expenses and improve the quality of life for the entire community. He cited crimes such as burglaries, thefts and robberies, which can stem from drug usage and require police resources while leaving behind victims.
"It does affect you," Johnson said. "More importantly, it undermines the fabric of the community."