Elk Grove Village Launches Comprehensive, Community-based Strategy to Tackle Opioid Addiction Epidemic
“Elk Grove Village Cares” highlights include Narcan kits in public spaces, partnerships with recovery and treatment institutions, major shift in law enforcement tactics that prioritizes compassion, fo
Elk Grove Village officials today announced the launch of a comprehensive, community-based approach aimed at reducing the number of heroin and opioid-related deaths, connecting addicts and their families to treatment programs and counseling, and educating residents about the devastating effects that opioid addiction can have on people, families and communities.
Elk Grove Village Cares is a first-of-its-kind approach that incorporates five primary components: a more compassionate approach by law enforcement, partnerships with local substance abuse treatment providers, placing overdose-reversing medication in public to help overdose victims, strengthening the support network in Elk Grove Village through follow up from social workers and alliances with inter-faith organizations, and a public education program aimed at removing the stigma attached to families and those suffering from opioid addiction.
“The disease of addiction, especially addiction to heroin and opioids, not only tears at the fabric of families, it tears at the very fabric that holds communities together,” said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson. “A community-wide problem demands a community-based solution. So, Elk Grove Village is taking the lead by attacking the problem on several fronts: by changing how law enforcement treats addicts, giving residents the information and tools they need to save lives, and partnering with treatment institutions and inter-faith organizations to build a network of support for those seeking to get clean.”
In keeping with an approach that other law enforcement agencies have adopted, the Elk Grove Village Police Department is changing its approach with respect to how it treats addicted individuals. Instead of merely arresting addicts, Department personnel will now assist individuals in accessing treatment.
The Village has entered into agreements with three local addiction treatment institutions (AMITA, the Gateway Foundation and the SHARE Program), through which the Elk Grove Village Police Department will refer individuals for residential substance abuse services.
Individuals who are seeking help for their addiction can present themselves at the Elk Grove Village Police Department at any time of day. An officer will then contact any of the three program partners to make arrangements to place the individual into a program. The officer will then transport the person to the facility. Individuals seeking help will not be arrested if they are in possession of illicit drugs or paraphernalia. And, individuals need not be Elk Grove Village residents. The Police Department will not turn away any individual who wants help.
“We know that the old methods of trying to arrest our way out of this problem are not effective,” said Elk Grove Village Police Chief Chuck Walsh. “So, starting today, the Elk Grove Village Police Department will serve as a point of entry for people who want to get the help they need.”
Village officials understand that the road to recovery for opioid addicts is often marked with setbacks and relapses, so they are tasking its social services department with conducting aggressive and frequent follow up with individuals who enter treatment via Elk Grove Village Cares.
“It’s not enough to simply get these men and women into treatment, then walk away. Elk Grove Village Cares is about a community’s compassion for those who are struggling with addiction while also making sure they know we’re there for them at every turn to aid in their recovery,” said Mayor Johnson.
Because many addicts seeking help lack the necessary insurance to gain access to quality care, the Village is also exploring how it can provide Medicaid enrollment assistance to addicts.
The Village also announced as part of Elk Grove Village Cares, it will begin placing medication that reverses the effects of opioids in public spaces in hopes of reducing the number of overdoses. Narcan kits will be placed in nearly 20 locations, primarily Village facilities, over the next month. It will expand the program in the coming months to potentially include placing the kits in businesses, schools and other locations. Only two other communities in the nation are deploying Narcan in public. They are Albuquerque, New Mexico and Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Similar to the placement of defibrillators in public, the kits are designed so that anyone can administer the drug easily and effectively. Village personnel will be trained on how to administer the drug.
All Elk Grove Village first responders have access to Narcan. Since they began carrying the medication, more than 20 individuals have been saved from potentially fatal overdoses.
As part of the FY2019 budget, the Village Board has approved adequate funding to support the creation of Elk Grove Village Cares. The funds will be used to purchase the Narcan kits, provide assistance to individuals seeking recovery services and to educate Elk Grove Village residents about the disease of addiction and the stigma that is attached to addiction.
“With Elk Grove Village Cares now launched after a year and a half of study, it is important that our community understand that this is not the end of our work to combat opioid addiction here in Elk Grove Village. Rather, it is the beginning of our commitment,” said Mayor Johnson. “This program will grow and evolve over the years based on what works and what doesn’t. But the bottom line is that Elk Grove Village Cares signifies our promise to our community to face this challenge head on.