How Naperville police helped heroin user find treatment

Updated 3/29/2016 5:05 PM

The day after Naperville police launched an initiative to connect heroin addicts to treatment, one user already has been placed in a program.

Deputy Chief Brian Cunningham said a 30-year-old Naperville man called police Tuesday morning asking for help with his addiction. He didn't have insurance.


But within two hours, using the network of volunteer sobriety coaches and drug recovery providers established in the new Connect for Life program, police got the man into a treatment facility.

"He has been struggling lately," Cunningham said. "He definitely needed help."

Cunningham asked the man to come to the station and started contacting sobriety coaches -- just as planned. A coach soon arrived to determine what type of treatment was needed. Contacts in the program then found a suitable treatment facility that would accept the man as a patient despite his lack of insurance.

Cunningham would not release what kind of treatment program the man was placed in or where it is located.

But he said the program worked "smoothly," exactly how it was designed, to connect a heroin user who wants to get clean with a sobriety coach and a slot at a treatment center.

The sobriety coach will check in with the man throughout his treatment and recovery.

Connect for Life is the second such heroin recovery assistance program established by a suburban police department. Rolling Meadows first offered the service in a program called Connect for Life, which began in October and has connected six users to treatment.

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Officials with the Lake County Opioid Initiative also are developing a way to connect heroin users to rehab. Police in Grayslake, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Mundelein, Round Lake Beach and Round Lake Park plan to test that program beginning in May or June.

Before Connect for Life began in Naperville, Cunningham heard from three heroin users who needed help, and was able to find them treatment. But Tuesday's successful placement represented the first time the program operated as intended -- using police only as the connection point between a person in need and support in the community.

"This was the first time we went through the whole system," Cunningham said. "It's nice to get the coaches involved."

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