A newly released report by the Illinois State Police shows that Will County drug enforcement and substance abuse prevention efforts are similar to trends exhibited statewide.
The report presents data on prescription drug submissions to the Illinois State Police for the second quarter of 2018.
“We’re seeing the same trends like everyone else statewide,” Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said.
Reports show that in Will County, the primary drugs to watch out for are cocaine, cannabis, opioids and methamphetamines.
“The big push, here, is heroin,” Kelley said. “It’s probably the deadliest. We’ve done a lot the last four years to address heroin, not only with the seizure of drugs but prevention.”
For the period, beginning January 2017 and ending August 2018, data shows that 159 samples tested positive for cocaine, 103 for cannabis, 91 for opioids and 31 for methamphetamines.
Will County uses a private lab, not Illinois State Police laboratories, to perform its drug submission testing.
“We don’t use it because it can take 9-14 days to get results back,” Kelley said. “Some things we test we can get results back in a matter of days. We’ve never had to wait more than 14 days.”
The contract with the lab is a price worth paying and that it doesn’t bog down cases, Kelley said. Will County also works with a contractor to handle the medical cases of its inmates.
Kelley said if the contractor becomes aware of an individual with mental health or substance abuses issues, they help them get the treatment they need.
Bonnie McPhillips, a police social worker for the Will County Sheriff’s Office, said Will County efforts to advocate for prevention are comparative to trends noted statewide.
“I think it’s similar,” she said. “There are some differences between methamphetamine and its usage downstate to the northern, more populous areas. They have more methamphetamines. Our main drugs are cocaine, opioids and cannabis.”
McPhillips is a member of the Will County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, a group comprised of community leaders out of education, medicine and business.
The group’s mission is to reduce substance abuse community youth, McPhillips said. The earlier they start using, the more quickly they can become addicted.
“There’s not enough treatment for youth,” McPhillips said. “It’s an area lacking based on insurance. … Money is behind all those things. There’s not a lot of availability. There’s a need in Will County, much like everywhere else.”
McPhillips said the accessibility of opioids is a problem in preventing substance abuse among community youth.
“They feel there’s less detection,” she said. “They’re more easily hidden than a big bottle of alcohol. That’s a trend that we’ve noted.”
Kelley said Will County has worked hard in its efforts over the years to enforce the law.
“In the last four years, we’ve seized double the amount of heroin the prior years I’ve been in the office,” he said.