Substance abuse treatment in Joliet, Illinois will receive a boost thanks to a federal grant bestowed to the Will County Health Department and Community Health Center (CHC).
The amount of the grant is $285,750 and it will go toward adding Suboxone to medication-assisted treatment programs supported by the CHC. A year ago, the agency added Vivitrol thanks to a previous grant.
Will County has worked toward creating substance abuse treatment for its residents, including those that have been arrested for drug-related crimes.
The Will County jail recently started a system, based off the Will County Drug Court, that helps offenders gain the ability to enroll in drug abuse programs, which last between a year to 18 months. After that, offenders are redirected to an addiction treatment center.
Once the patients enter a drug and alcohol treatment facility, they are still required to appear in court twice a week. When the offenders finish a substance abuse treatment program, the number of scheduled court appearances diminish and they can graduate from the drug court. The Will County Drug Court gives offenders a chance to have a clean record. The drug court also runs two recovery houses, which give patients a sober environment while recovering from substance use disorders.
The county estimates that over 300 people have graduated from the Will County Drug Court program since it started.
A representative of the CHC stated that with the grant they were able to hire more staff to fill important roles in their agency.
The agency has been at the forefront of dealing with opioid addiction in the community. In August, one of its doctors participated in an opioid epidemic forum that was aimed at creating more solutions to the problem in Will County.
Last year, the CHC also set up a patient portal, which allows patients to interact with their physicians and have access to their personal medical records from home. The department also joined the Will County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition in hosting a substance abuse forum to educate parents and youths in the community about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
The Will County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition has worked to reduce substance abuse by hosting events and forums. One its events was a substance abuse workshop that featured Narcan overdose prevention training.
Will County currently ranks No. 9 out of 102 counties in Illinois in health outcomes, according to information gathered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The county is also ranked No. 35 in clinical care.
According to the Will County Coroner’s Office, there have been 94 cases of accidental drug-related overdoses and 62 heroin and fentanyl related drug deaths in the county this year. In 2017, there were 117 accidental drug-related overdoses and 85 people who died from heroin and fentanyl related overdoses.
The CHC, in its 2017 Annual Report, has created a strategic health plan that it is implementing for the next five years. The goal of the plan is to encourage a healthy environment for all Will County residents.