Heroin Solutions: Pilot Program Boasts Success in Winnebago County

- ROCKFORD -- Winnebago County takes a stand against heroin by fighting back with a drug called Vivitrol.

One hit of heroin. That's all it takes to change a life forever.

It's a terrible, devastating drug," said Bridget Kiely and interventionist and administrator for TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities). "But it's also a disease, addiction is disease, and there is help and there is hope for recovery."

Bridget Kiely helps users kick addiction and now Winnebago County drug court has a new weapon to do just that. It's called Vivitrol.

"It stops that cravings, it stops the crazy dreams that come with using it settles them down," said Kiely.

The monthly injection acts as a blocker to the receptors that would otherwise accept heroin which means the user can't get high.

"This is something that we sought out in response to the huge influx of heroin and opiate addicted people that are coming into the criminal justice system," said Judge Janet Holmgren, 17th Judicial Circuit Court. 

Judge Holmgren says Winnebago County represents the pilot program for the drug in Illinois.

"They chose Winnebago County because of the magnitude of our heroin abuse issue in our community," said Judge Holmgren, "and also because we have a drug court that has a proven track record of success."

18 users in the drug court program are trying Vivitrol. And so far, so good. But the injection alone isn't enough.

"It's also the counseling that goes with it, so its the combination of the two that are changing people's lives and enabling them to get well," said Kiely.

The Vivitrol treatment lasts for 6 months and it's completely voluntary. Those participating through the Winnebago County drug court do not have to pay for it.

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