DIXON (WIFR) -- There's a new strategy to get heroin addicts the help they need and it's unlike anything we've ever heard before. The program through the Dixon Police Department is the first of its kind in Illinois.
A walk through the doors of the Dixon Police Department may soon be life changing. It's a chance for heroin addicts to kick their addiction without any legal repercussions.
"You shouldn't have to commit a felony to get help and treatment. Addiction is not a crime. We need to get people the tools for recovery," Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss, said.
Under the new program, set to begin in September, addicts can come to the police department, turn in their drugs, and get treatment immediately. That instant acceptance is crucial to recovery, but it often doesn't happen.
"It's typically 3 to 4 weeks, and that’s if you have insurance," Alison White, who works for the group Safe Harbor, said.
White helps users get into programs to get clean, but says if addicts don't get in right away they often go back to the streets.
"Many times the parents will end up calling me and asking me do you know if they're alive because they don't know where they're at, they've gone back into active addiction and they're gone," White explained.
Another aspect of the fight against heroin is the formation of a new hotline for addicts and their family members. 24 hours a day they can get counseling and referrals to treatment centers over the phone. Users can even talk with recovering addicts.
"If they know they have someone who has been down the same road and they can talk through some of those processes with them there's a good chance that they're not going to use," Pastor Michael Cole, who started the Lee County Hotline, said.
That hotline goes live on Monday. The number is (866) 464-4431.
There is also an Opiate Recovery Group. It will meet every Monday, starting August 3. It meets at 7pm at 101 W. 2nd Street at Town Square Center in Dixon.