Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today that the office’s opioid crisis podcast is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play Music. The announcement comes along with the release of a second episode – “Highs and Lows” – that brings listeners inside an addiction treatment program in the jail.
Titled “Breaking Free: Dispatches from the Opioid Crisis”, the public awareness podcast aims to shed light on the devastating nature of opioid addiction and to give the public a better understanding of those trapped in its grip. The second episode serves as a window into the jail’s THRIVE program, a court-ordered drug treatment program for women facing nonviolent charges. The podcast features participants sharing their highs and lows of the day as part of a group therapy icebreaker.
“First off, I’m happy because I have a great family and I’m grateful to have them, especially because they came to visit me yesterday,” one woman says in the latest installment. “And I’m crappy because I didn’t really realize before how great they were to me and I treated them horrible on the outside. And that sucks.”
The first installment, “From the Brink of Death,” featured an interview with a 24-year-old man who was ordered to a jail-based treatment program after he was discovered unresponsive on the floor of a Skokie courthouse bathroom. Sheriff’s officers were able to revive him with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. The incident was captured on a body-worn camera and released on the Sheriff’s social media page where the video has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
The podcast is part of an Opioid Crisis Awareness Initiative launched by Sheriff Dart last year and represents just one of the office’s efforts to address the crisis.
This summer the Sheriff launched a new program to help individuals who complete jail-based treatment programs to continue treatment in the community while on electronic monitoring. The Sheriff’s Office and Cermak Health Services – a division of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System – also have a robust naloxone distribution program in which more than 2,800 of the life-saving kits have been distributed to at-risk individuals in custody as they leave custody
Opioid-related overdoses kill more people in Cook County than car crashes or gun violence. In 2017 Cook County saw more than 1,000 opioid-related overdose deaths, up 90 percent from 2015, according to state public health department data.
Breaking Free is also available on SoundCloud.