Suburbs' first OD awareness clinic opens in Arlington Hts.
Addicts, family members, police and anyone else with a need can be trained and take home the tools to save someone from an opiate overdose at the suburbs' first walk-in clinic, which opens Thursday in Arlington Heights.
The nonprofit group Live 4 Lali has 3,000 autoinjectors -- handheld devices, similar to EpiPens, that deliver the drug naloxone -- through a donation from Kaleo, the company that makes the Evzio-brand injectors.
Naloxone is an effective counter to overdoses of heroin and other opiates, and police officers in increasing numbers throughout the suburbs are carrying the drug to save lives.
The volunteers running the new clinic are certified to train others how to use the injectors, which normally cost $300, and will give them to people they train starting this week, said Chelsea Laliberte, the Palatine co-founder of Live 4 Lali.
"The walk-in clinic was developed because the community is having a hard time accessing resources about care and treatment," Laliberte said.
The clinic will open from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at 3275 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite 403B, and is expected to be open to walk-ins several days a week after that.
Laliberte also hopes this clinic will be a model for others.
Laliberte and her mother started Live 4 Lali in memory of her brother, Alex, a Stevenson High School graduate who died of a heroin overdose in 2008.
Live 4 Lali also is training area police departments, including Arlington Heights and Prospect Heights.
On Wednesday, the day before the opening, the small office off Dundee Road was decorated with inspirational quotes and the question "What do you live for?"
People who come to the clinic are invited to pin their own reasons to the bulletin board to inspire others. A few messages are already there, including one by Tim Ryan, a Naperville father who wrote that he lives because his son Ryan cannot. Ryan, 20, died of an overdose in August.
"We are expecting people from all walks of life to come in because addiction doesn't discriminate," Laliberte said. "Any member of the community who loves someone and needs help is welcome."
The clinic is the first of its kind in the suburbs, and Laliberte said they think it is the only one like it in Illinois.
"This is a model. It hasn't been tried yet, but it's something different," she said. "We'd love to have millions of them if we could.
"We're giving people the highest level of care possible and showing the community that they are not alone. We're trying to change the culture."
The clinic is staffed by volunteers and primarily will serve Lake and Northwest Cook counties, although anyone is welcome.
Tentative clinic hours are from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesday and from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, but full hours and details on programming is available at www.live4lali.org.
The clinic will also do referrals, give information on treatment, house support groups and recovery meetings, and have volunteer clinicians to offer counseling.
"Everyone comes to us at a different point," Laliberte said. "It could even be someone who doesn't want to get clean yet, but they just don't want to die."
Arlington Heights resident Genevieve Przybylo is the operations director of Live 4 Lali, and for the past year she has been handling her own son's recovery from drug addiction.
"This place would have been amazing," had it been available for her a year ago, Przybylo said. "It could have guided me on what I'm dealing with. I had no idea what addiction was or what to do. It would have helped just to have the support that I'm not alone."
Chandra Czerniejewski, also of Arlington Heights, lost her brother to an overdose in 1999, a time when there was little or no mainstream discussion about heroin addiction.
"Things were different back then, we were all alone," said Czerniejewski, now the volunteer coordinator with Live 4 Lali. "This will be such a great place for people to go for resources."