New Kane County program to connect residents with drug treatment centers
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain knows there are people struggling with drug addiction who want to seek help, but are afraid of retribution.
A new county initiative encourages them to get the support they need without fear of being reprimanded or arrested.
"A Way Out in Kane" serves as a nonpunitive method for linking residents with local rehabilitative resources and treatment centers, Hain said. Led by the sheriff's office in collaboration with the coroner and state's attorney, the program is one of many ongoing strategies aimed at driving down drug addiction, crime and death rates in the county.
"If we can just save one person, that makes the entire program worthwhile," Hain said.
The number of opioid-related deaths in Kane County has "skyrocketed" the past several years, he said, prompting Coroner Rob Russell to start advocating for such a program about two years ago. Hain followed suit when he was elected to his first term last year, setting a goal to put policies in place, train staff and work out logistics by July 1.
"I saw the extreme need for this and made it a high priority," he said.
To initiate "A Way Out" services, Kane County residents can call, walk in or use the sheriff's office TIP411 portal on its website. A member of the department will triage their addiction issues and contact treatment centers for availability.
The county has a list of volunteers willing to provide transportation to the selected facility, Hain said.
The program was established at no cost to the county, he added. "It's all networking."
Hain and Russell sought input from Northwestern Delnor Hospital in Geneva, as well as local treatment centers and other law enforcement agencies that have implemented similar initiatives. Leaders of the Lake County Opioid Initiative offered guidance on rolling out the program, Russell said, and Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon provided a legal map for implementation.
"The opioid epidemic is a very tough opponent," Russell said in a written statement. "Only collaborative, bipartisan efforts like this one are going to make a difference to save lives."
The sheriff's office has established other methods for addressing drug addiction, which is a contributing factor in most of the county's crime, Hain said. Medically assisted treatment and addiction counseling services are being offered to drug-dependent Kane County jail inmates, he said, and exit programs and job training are available to those re-entering the community. His office also is working to open a 30,000-square-foot residential treatment center inside the sheriff's complex.
"This is about caring for our residents," he said, "not incarcerating them."