File Photo – Lake County Health Department | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Lake County officials have announced that the “A Way Out” program has served over 1,000 clients who are seeking substance use treatment.

The Lake County Health Department, Lake County Opioid Initiative and participating police departments announced on March 1 that 1,003 clients were served by the A Way Out program.

A Way Out is a program in Lake County implemented in June 2016 that helps people access substance use treatment.

It aims to reduce overdoses and improve access to treatment, with the Lake County Health Department calling it a “life-saving program.”

“Through A Way Out, a person can walk into a participating police department, turn in any drugs and paraphernalia without fear of criminal charges, and access inpatient or outpatient care,” the health department said.

Law enforcement calls the health department, which begins finding appropriate treatment for the treatment, and following treatment health department staff can continue to provide support.

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Recovery support and treatment can include peer support, case management, withdrawal management (detox) and inpatient rehab, outpatient options including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), transitional and recovery housing, and community resources, the health department said.

Sam Johnson, Director of Behavioral Health at the Lake County Health Department, said, “We’re breaking the stigma of mental health and substance use disorders.”

“The A Way Out program allows people in our community to seek help without fear of judgment or legal consequences,” Johnson said.

A Way Out is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Anyone age 18 and over can participate in A Way Out and citizenship status and language do not affect eligibility.

More information on how to participate in A Way Out and to find participating police departments is available on the county’s website.