Members of Nicasa Behavioral Health Services and the Antioch Police Department pose together as they launch a partnership between the two agencies. | Provided Photo

The Antioch Police Department announced they are partnering with a non-profit organization to deal with the nationwide opioid epidemic on a local level, which they said is a first for law enforcement in Lake County.

Antioch Police Chief Geoff Guttschow announced the partnership earlier this week between the Antioch Police Department and Nicasa Behavior Health Services, a non-profit organization.

The initiative brings trained professionals of Nicasa into Antioch to provide education and resources to the community.

“This partnership deploys actual boots-on-the-ground resources to our community that has seen spikes in drug overdoses,” Guttschow said.

“Law Enforcement can no longer stand idle and presume we can arrest ourselves out of this epidemic. Addiction plagues families without prejudice and it knows no boundaries,” he said.

The trained interventionists from Nicasa have already started the process of outreach within Antioch, officials said.

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The team is distributing information and providing training and doses of the opioid antigen Narcan.

The interventionists recruit residents and organizations living or working in targeted areas within the village to participate in training to identify signs of overdose and learn how to administer Narcan.

Officials say the advantage for the police department to partner with Nicasa is that when the non-profit provide resources or support, they do so without the recipients being tracked.

The process aims to make it safe for anyone to reach out without fear of arrest or other complications.

“Some families view addiction issues as a private family matter and they do not want law enforcement involved, I get that, I understand, however, I want them to have an avenue for help,” Guttschow said.

Nicasa’s outreach is funded through a grant from the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Participants who complete the training are given Narcan and other resource materials to share.

Individuals can also be referred to community organizations, the Lake County A Way-Out program and other treatment providers.

Officials say that Antioch has experienced a higher-than-average number of overdose incidents.

Guttschow there were 10 overdose incidents in 2021 and there have been 22 so far this year.

Guttschow said he hopes the addition of the new initiative will help lead to a decrease in overdose incidents by offering life-saving training and resources.

“Bottom line is whatever we can do to save the life of someone’s family member, we are going to do it,” the police chief said.

Nicasa Chief Executive Officer Bruce Johnson said the training and resources provided through the program have become a critical part of saving lives.

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Nicasa will be focusing its resources on the west side of the county and Northern Illinois Recovery Community Organization, led by Dr. Mary Roberson, will be focusing its resources on the east part of the county.

“Between our organizations, we hope to bring valuable resources to our Lake County Communities,” Johnson said.

“Anyone can benefit from learning how to administer Narcan. An average person is more likely to encounter an overdose victim than someone having a heart attack. The opioid epidemic hits across all demographics and types of communities,” Johnson added.

Anyone interested in speaking with an interventionist for free is encouraged to email Antioch Police Commander Chuck Smith at csmith@antioch.il.gov or call Nicasa directly at 847-546-6450.