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Drug Addiction Help without Arrest at Chicago Police Stations

Seven police stations in the Lake County area of Chicago are now participating in a just released program called The Way Out. Simply put, you go into the police station, turn in your drugs or paraphernalia, ask for drug addiction rehab help, and you’ll get it – with no charges or arrest.

The program was announced Wednesday, June 1st and within 24 hours two people had arrived for help and are now in addiction treatment programs on the road to getting their lives back.

Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther, who’s also a member of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, started The Way Out and he’s very happy with the response. In addition to the two who’ve already checked in to rehab, there have been a lot of emails and other inquiries about the program, and calls from people who want to help.

24 hours a day, 365 days a week you can show up at any of the 7 police stations involved – Grayslake, Gurnee, Libertyville, Mundelein, Lake Forest, Round Lake Beach, and Round Lake Park – and ask for help.

This whole initiative started in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in May 2015. They helped 260 people in just four months – starting in June, a month after the program began – and, now, a year later, they’ve helped over 450.

To date, 112 police departments in 28 states have begun similar programs and it’s estimated that 2,000 have been gotten into drug addiction rehab programs overall.

The thing I find personally very gratifying about this program is the new relationship with addicts and law enforcement.

It must be terribly frustrating for a cop to arrest someone for drugs only to have them go to jail or prison and then, chances are, leave prison and go back to doing exactly the same thing and wind up in prison again.

There’s been a lot of controversy about these programs some experts saying that it’s actually against the law – violating the drug laws that would normally be enforced.

But, really, why keep doing something that’s just not working?

Like Einstein said in his definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – why keep courting failure?

The War on Drugs has resulted in an outrageous percentage of U.S. citizens in prison – some for long periods of time and long sentences, who do not get rehabilitated and basically leave prison only to repeat their mistakes and, often, wind up back in prison.

Not to mention that there are no fewer people taking drugs – especially in light of the prescription drug epidemic that continues to escalate and has been for years.

Is it time for the law to catch up so this sort of program can be implemented?

I’d like to know what others think of this program.

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