Lee County combats herion addiction

Instead of getting arrested, they get treatment.

By Sarah Greene | sgreene@whbf.com

Published 09/02 2015 06:54PM

Updated 09/02 2015 06:54PM

Lee County is only one of two places in the entire country with the safe passage initiative. The initiative allows heroin addicts to come to this police station and instead of getting arrested, they get treatment. 
Here's how it works: Someone suffering an addiction to heroin or opioid drugs like Vicodin or Oxycotin, can call or go into the Dixon Police Station, or the Lee County Sheriff's Office. 
Then they hand over their drugs, needles, or anything else they use to get high.
Officers and volunteers called 'Safe Passage Guides' help find the best treatment for them, out of the seven centers they're partnered with, and instead of heading into a jail cell, the person is on the road to recovery, typically within an hour of arriving. 
Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said,  "Addiction is not a crime it's a disease, and the way law enforcement has handled this for so many years just doesn't work. We can't arrest our way out of this problem, but we can through great programs like these really change people lives."
Chief Langloss believes this program is just part of what needs to be done about the country's heroin crisis. 
In Dixon alone, during the last six months, 15 people have been arrested for possession or selling heroin, and four people have died of heroin overdoses.
So far, the  program is already making a difference. Since it began Tuesday, three people have stepped forward to get help. 
Safe passage volunteer and recovering addict, Allison White, has already seen the effect this program has had on those who want to get better. 
"They have no hope and no desire to live anymore and the idea that someone was going to help them even though they made bad choices gave them hope in themselves," said White. 
Right now this program is only offered to Lee County residents, but those suffering with addiction outside of the county are encouraged to get support in their area.

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