State turns to Dixon for possible solution to addiction and ment - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

State turns to Dixon for possible solution to addiction and mental health issues

Posted:
Illinois House Substance Abuse Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) Illinois House Substance Abuse Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)
DIXON (WREX) -

The fight against drug addiction in Dixon has caught the entire state's attention. 

Lawmakers are looking at its Safe Passage program as a possible model for other areas. 

For years, drugs consumed the life of Laura Santos' daughter. 
  
"Waiting on a bed was the story of the last six months of her life," Santos said.

She died in 2015. It was one of three heroin overdose deaths in Dixon within 10 days. 
Santos says her daughter suffered from mental illness and addiction, but didn't know where to turn to for help.

Her daughter's death prompted Dixon to form the Safe Passage Imitative, a program aimed to help people addicted to heroin and opiates. 
If they go to police or sheriff's deputies for help-- they get put into treatment. 

"It's a disease just like cancer, heart disease, diabetes," Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said. "It isn't that somebody is schizophrenic. They suffer from the disease of schizophrenia. Once they get treatment, they can go on to live fairly normal and productive lives."

Now the state is looking to Dixon as an example. Monday was the first of several hearings for lawmakers on the Illinois house substance abuse subcommittee. Their goal is to find the link between mental illness and addiction and bring more resources to Illinois rural areas.

"Mental health and substance abuse are two different things, but we do know that people who have substance abuse disorder," Langloss said. "Eighty percent of them have a dual diagnosis mental health condition."

Dixon police say they hope the series of hearings will result in more dollars for mental health and addiction services. 

Help didn't come in time for Santos' daughter, but she hopes it's there in time for others in need. 

"We were just waiting on a bed because we knew it would be coming soon and it just never did," Santos said.

Powered by Frankly