Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart released new episodes today of the podcast “Breaking Free” featuring content aimed at supporting those on the front lines of the opioid crisis – the friends and family helping loved ones with substance use disorders.
The four new episodes include interviews with medical professionals answering some of the tough questions that come up when a loved one has a substance use disorder: Why don’t they stop using? How do I get them to accept treatment? What is the best treatment? Do they need medication? Am I an enabler? When should I walk away?
Listeners will learn about how addiction impacts behavior, when to consider medication-assisted treatment and the latest thinking on how to engage someone battling an addiction.
Featured in the podcast are: Dr. Christopher Holden, director of addiction services at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System; Dr. Jonathan Adelstein, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with Northwestern Medicine; Dr. Nicole Gastala, a clinical physician and researcher, and Philip Maes, a certified addiction specialist at the University of Illinois Mile Square Health Center.
“Helping a loved one with a substance use disorder can be incredibly challenging and the treatment system is evolving and difficult to navigate,” Sheriff Dart said. “If we are going to have a shot at ending this crisis we need to get the best information possible to the people living it every day.”
Previous installments of Breaking Free provided a unique window into the thoughts of those suffering from substance use disorder. They included interviews with women in drug treatment at the Cook County jail and an interview with a man receiving treatment after he was discovered unresponsive on the floor of the Skokie courthouse bathroom. Officers were able to save his life last year with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
The podcast is one of many efforts by the Sheriff’s Office to address the opioid crisis.
Approximately one-in-five individuals in custody at the jail admit to opioid abuse and hundreds receive treatment every day. The Office has expanded treatment options for those in custody and on electronic monitoring while also distributing life-saving naloxone kits to address overdoses in the community. More than 3,500 kits have been distributed to individuals released from custody since August of 2016.
Opioid-related overdoses kill more people in Cook County than car crashes or gun violence. Cook County saw more than 1,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017, up 90 percent from 2015, according to state public health department data. Preliminary data for last year shows the trend has not abated.