Lake County police program designed to help drug addicts is expanding
The Lake Zurich and Waukegan police departments have joined a regional law enforcement program designed to help drug addicts get help.
That brings the total number of departments participating in the two-year-old A Way Out program to 13.
Focusing on treatment instead of criminal punishment, the effort allows anyone addicted to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol or other substances to seek treatment simply by walking into the lobby of a participating police station and asking for help.
Police will even dispose of the addict's unwanted drugs without filing possession charges.
"The Lake Zurich Police Department is looking forward to being able to offer treatment options to those who need them through the A Way Out program," Police Chief Steve Husak said in a news release. "This is a vital community caretaking function."
The other participating police agencies are in Deerfield, Fox Lake, Grayslake, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Mundelein, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park and Zion. The Lake County sheriff's office is participating, too.
Since the program launched, the participating departments have helped 395 people get treatment for drug addiction, according to the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a team of law enforcement and health agencies fighting to prevent drug addiction and drug-related deaths here.
To get help through A Way Out, a drug user simply needs to visit a participating police station and ask for addiction assistance. The person seeking treatment will be responsible for paying for the services, whether through medical insurance or other means.