Addiction's Impact on Society

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    • 00:10

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Great meeting today.

    • 00:12

      WOMAN: Yes.Nice to see you.You did great.

    • 00:14

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Thank you.You did, too, as usual.

    • 00:16

      WOMAN: Thank you.Do you believe that we have reached 80 lives saved?

    • 00:21

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: No.It's amazing.

    • 00:23

      WOMAN: I can't believe it.

    • 00:24

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: And a lot just within the past couple weeks.It's been really crazy.Hello.My name is Mike Nerheim, and I'm the Lake County, Illinoisstate's attorney.So the opioid addiction issue, the wayit affects families in the communityhere in Lake County and anywhere, it's destructive.It's incredibly destructive.It can destroy families.It destroys lives, quite literally.

    • 00:45

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: There's a huge cost, both economically as well asjust the personal cost, the emotional toll.From my perspective as a law enforcement leader,it is our number one issue right now.Because it's not just the substance abuse.That's a big problem on its own.But it's everything it's tied to.There's a huge percentage of the criminal conduct

    • 01:06

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: that we end up prosecuting that is tied, either directlyor indirectly, to illegal drug use.But setting that aside, it's the real human toll that it takes.It's when you sit and you talk to a mother that lost a child.We've had cases, tragically, where parents have lost twoof their kids to this disease.

    • 01:28

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: This is an epidemic.And that's not a word I use lightly.It's an epidemic.And it affects so many different areas.It affects our entire community.Again, when you look at Lake County,the cross-section of Lake County, we have everything.We have some of the poorest communitiesin the country, some of the wealthiest--every economic group you can imagine,

    • 01:49

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: every socioeconomic group you can imagine,every race, religion.And it is everywhere.It doesn't discriminate.It's all over our community, and itaffects families in a very real way, whichis why it's such a priority for me as a law enforcement leader,but also as a member of the community myself, as a father.I have my own kids.And one of my biggest fears is that they end up

    • 02:12

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: in this situation.Because you see this destroys families all over.Nobody is immune.I think some people like to think, well,that just happens in communities where people aren'tgood parents, or those kids just didn't have enough opportunity.We see some of the best parents you can imagine,people that have had every opportunity given to them

    • 02:33

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: by their family, come up in great environment,wonderful families, that still fall prey to this.And as a father, it scares the hell out of me.So that's the concern we all have.We've seen this affect the family members of judges,of prosecutors, of defense attorneys, of doctors.You name it.

    • 02:53

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: There's nobody that this doesn't affect.So it's incredibly destructive all across the board,and the word epidemic absolutely applies.The Fentanyl thing really bothers me, too.I think seeing that grow is scary.And it's not just here.It's Chicago and all around us.

    • 03:12

      WOMAN: Absolutely.And then I guess the Sheriff's Departmentwas saying that it was a combinationof several different drugs, so anything from benzodiazepinesand opioids and marijuana.I think crack cocaine might have been at the scene as well.It's scary.

    • 03:28

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Well, the economic impactthat opioid addiction has on our community is significant.Smarter people than me could probablygive you an exact number.But when you look at certainly the costthat it has on a criminal justice system,I can tell you that the vast majority of cases we handleare either directly or indirectly

    • 03:48

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: linked to the drug trade.Essentially, most of our cases fall under two categories.There is the drug-related crimes or domestic violence-relatedcrimes.And those are sometimes tied together.So there is the cost of incarceration.There's the cost of prosecution.There's also the economic cost in termsof the general economy, in terms of lost wages--

    • 04:13

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: the treatment costs, the money that's poured into that.So there's a huge economic cost to this.And again, there are people that could probablyput a dollar amount on it.But quite frankly, I don't reallylook at it in that regard.Because we're here to do our job.We're here to prosecute cases.We're here to go to court.We're here to get in the communityand trying to prevent crime.

    • 04:34

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: And we can't concern ourselves with the cost,the economic cost.But the cost that I look at is the cost with the families.When you sit and talk to somebodythat lost a loved one to overdose,when you talk to the parents, when you talk to the siblings,when you talk to the people left behindand you feel the cost that it takes, the toll that it takes

    • 04:55

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: on them, and you see how this destroysfamilies-- that is the cost.So the economics are one thing, but it'sthe human cost that is really the most significant partof it.Orlando from the coroner's office has some data.

    • 05:13

      MAN: Based on last year's year's numbers from the heroinoverdoses and Fentanyl and prescription drugs,one of the things that we're starting to see herein Lake County with some of the deathsthat we've been running into-- yes,we've been seeing the heroin-related deaths.But what we're starting to see againis what we had a few years back where, in Chicago, theyhad a high number of heroin mixed with Fentanyl.

    • 05:35

      MAN [continued]: Well, we're starting to see that here in Lake County again.

    • 05:38

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: The most common misperceptions about addictionare that it doesn't happen in my community.So we have some pretty wealthy communities herein Lake County, for example.And when you go and you talk in those communities,you have a lot of people that willsit there and think, OK, well, that's interesting,but not my kid.Not my school.Not in our community.

    • 05:58

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: Those things don't happen here.It's a complete misconception.Because the reality is it happens everywhere.In some regards, it's more prevalent in some of the moreaffluent communities.So that's a big misperception.And the other misperception when it comes to heroin,for example, is people have this idea in their head of what

    • 06:20

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: a heroin user looks like.And they may envision some strung out guywith long hair and tattoos laying in an alley with needlesin his arms.That's their perception of heroin.And they think, well, that's not me.That's not my neighborhood.But the reality is it's the captain of the football team.It's the straight A student.

    • 06:40

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: It's a soccer mom.It's a truck driver.It's everybody.So those misperceptions that-- again, it'snot my kid, not my community, thisis what it looks like-- they're all wrong.And it can be destructive when you'retrying to spread the message.Because if people don't want to hear something,they're not going to listen.And one of the frustrations we have is when we go out

    • 07:02

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: and we do forums and we invite peopleto come in and learn about this, a lot of times,you're preaching to the choir.Because the people that come, they already get it.And the people that should be there,they don't believe it's a problem.So breaking down those barriers and really erasing that stigmais important, too.Because there's a lot of people that have an issue,

    • 07:24

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: and they want to ask for help, or theywant to reach out for their kids or for their loved ones,and they're afraid to because of that stigma thatcomes with this problem.Well, the stereotypes of addictioncan drive public policy, or I should say inhibit progressoftentimes.Because when you go out and you talk to groups--

    • 07:46

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: I'll give you an anecdote.If you go back in time three years-- because everywhere Igo, I'm talking about heroin and opiates.And it could be a Rotary Club breakfast meeting.It could be a group of seniors at a senior center.It doesn't matter.I'm always talking about this.Three years ago, if I'm talking to an exchange

    • 08:07

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: club, for example, about heroin, the entire roomis looking at me like what is he talking about.This guy is crazy.Heroin, really?And it's like talking to a roomful of blank faces.Fast forward, present day-- those same groups,now I'm talking to a roomful of nodding heads.And they're nodding for two reasons.One's good and one's bad.

    • 08:28

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: The good reason they're nodding is because a lot of themhave heard the message, and they'veallowed those stereotypes to be brushed away,and they've realized that this is something theyneed to be concerned about.But the other reason they're nodding their headsis it shows you how prevalent this problem has becomein a short period of time.Because they're nodding their heads because theyknow about the issue, because it's directly or indirectly

    • 08:51

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: affected them.Either their neighbor lost a son to an overdose,or perhaps they have a son or daughterthat's in recovery or struggling with addiction.And it doesn't matter where I go.There is now a roomful of people that know about it.And they either know about it because hopefully they'veheard about it and are interested,or unfortunately, they know about it because it'saffected them personally.

    • 09:13

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: But that's what we're trying to do.We are at 80 lives saved right now.[APPLAUSE]With law enforcement issuing the lock zone.So that's huge.And we've had a surge of saves just within the last few weeks.I'm sure you heard the Sheriff's Department had,

    • 09:33

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: this past week, five overdoses in one house,and they had two saves out of that.So all the police continue to do a great job saving lives.And you law enforcement folks should alsoknow that Susan and I have been working on sustainabilityfor that program, because we know that even though we'vebeen very lucky-- I guess luck is not the right word,because Susan has been working hard

    • 09:55

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to achieve these donations.But we've been able to do this without any cost,but we can't always count on those donations.So we do have a plan B that we'reworking on where we can find some funding so wecan continue that.So hopefully, it won't come out of the pocketsof law enforcement.The Lake County Opiate Initiativeis a broad-based, collaborative community effort

    • 10:18

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to bring simply as many people aspossible from as many different perspectives and backgroundsas possible to one table to bring all our resourcesto bear on the opioid epidemic.And we focus on prevention.We focus on education.We focus on treatment.We focus on this issue from every different possible

    • 10:39

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: perspective.And the strength of the Opioid Initiativeis the diversity of its membership.So we have faith-based organizations.We have government leaders from every level-- state,local, federal.All our state representatives, our state senators,our US senator, our US congressmen-- they'reall here at the table, all the way down

    • 10:60

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to the county board and county and city-elected officials.We have law enforcement from state, county, local,and federal levels.We have treatment providers from all the different typesof treatment you can imagine, whether it's12 step, whether it's medically assisted.You name it, they're all there.We have simply people that have dealt with this issue

    • 11:22

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: personally, regular people that arein recovery that want to be a part of the solution,parents of people that are in recovery, community outreachorganizations.You name it.People at the Bar Association, judges, probation,our health department-- all these people come together.We meet monthly, but it's a lot more than that.

    • 11:42

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: It's the work that happens in between meetings.We're broken up into six subcommittees,so we have law enforcement subcommittee,we have treatment subcomittee, education, prevention,communications, medical professionals.And those subcommittees work on this issuefrom their perspective.And we have a set of objectives and some broad-based goals

    • 12:04

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: that we're working on that sometimesthe work of the subcommittees overlaps, for example.And one of the big programs we working on nowis a program called The Way Out, whichis a program we're going to launch here in about two weeks.

    • 12:18

      WOMAN: A Way Out is a law enforcement-assisted diversionprogram where people who are struggling with substance abusecan act as treatment through their police departmentwith no fear of criminal charges or arrest or anything relatedto criminality if they just show up on their own.This is a new, revolutionary thingthat the whole county is going to be doing.

    • 12:37

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: It's a pre-arrest diversion programwhich will allow people that are in needof help, that are struggling with addiction, a pathwayto treatment.So essentially, what happens is theycan go to their local police department.And if they want, they can bring their bag of drugsand their paraphernalia.And they can go to the local police department,

    • 12:57

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: walk in any time of the day, hand over their drugs.The police will take it.They'll destroy it.They won't be arrested, but rather, they'llbe given a pathway right into a treatment program.And that's something we've been working on for about a year.And all of the subcommittees have come together.Because it's not as simple as, OK, these people come

    • 13:17

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to the police and they say, OK, well,here's your treatment provider.We have to have all that lined up on the back end,have all the treatment providers in place,the hospitals in place, everybody in our countyworking together so when these people come in, we have a placewhere can send them.But that's the beauty of our initiative,is we can get programs like that up and running

    • 13:38

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: relatively quickly, because we have all the players at onetable.

    • 13:42

      MAN: The Lake County Sherriff's Officehas been working with the health department,and we're very close to introducing a program called[INAUDIBLE].And it's actually an injectable thatis used to treat alcohol and opiod-based inmates alongwith counseling services to help curb off the recidivism asfar as offenders as well as receiving treatments.This is something that's already been

    • 14:02

      MAN [continued]: in place over several sates, and there'sa very high success rate to it.I do not have those numbers available.But it's enough that they're pushing forward.And hopefully, in the next month or so,they should have something in placeas far as how the program is initiated.

    • 14:13

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: So there's a lot of different treatmentmethods to fight opiate addiction.And I'd say I'm not a treatment expert.I'm a prosecutor.I'm a lawyer.So the answer is I don't know.I think the answer is what works for some might notwork for others.And I think there are different types of treatment.

    • 14:34

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: I know there's a school of thought, for example,that you have to go into the 12 step communityand you can't use medically-assisted treatment.I don't necessarily agree with that.I think perhaps the 12 step method works for some people,but it doesn't work for everybody.And I don't think we should say, well, thisis the only type of treatment.I think it's what works for you.

    • 14:56

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: And maybe that's a combination of different types of treatmentor different theories with regard to treatment.I do know that the research I've read is very positive in regardto medically-assisted treatment, and Ithink that's certainly something that should be utilized.The type of medication is going to be differentdepending on the person and the medical professionals.

    • 15:16

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: I leave that to them.But I do know that it's not just medically-assisted treatment.I think you have to have some sort of therapyalong with medically-assisted treatment.But the bottom line is there is no magic bullet.There is no one size fits all cure, so to speak.It's a long process, sometimes a lifelong process.

    • 15:37

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: It's an incredibly difficult process.So it's what works for you.It's what works for that person.But what we can do as a community ismake all those resources available to peopleand support them so when they do come forwardand say, OK, help me, I want help, I want out,we can get them what they need.

    • 15:57

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: And to me, that's the most effective way to do it.It's have all the different options available, and thenwhat's going to work for you.

    • 16:05

      WOMAN: CPS, I believe, contacted Mike [INAUDIBLE]about a new primary education programthat they've initiated this year that targetsspecifically high school youth.And their goal is to reduce prescription drugmisuse and abuse.It's called Once Choice Changes Everything.

    • 16:27

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: As a prosecutor,we have a lot of tools, any number of tools.But the most important tool, the most powerful toolwe have is our discretion, our ability to look at a caseand decide, you know what?Maybe we don't want to charge that case.Maybe we want to get this person into treatment.Or maybe we don't want to send this person to prison.

    • 16:47

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: Maybe we want to try to get them probation with treatment,or maybe we want to do a diversion program.Or maybe we want to incentivize somebodyto get into treatment by offering them the opportunityto have their case dismissed at the end of their treatment.There's a whole list of things that we can do.The other powerful tool we have is wegenerally have a lot of people in the community

    • 17:09

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: that we can reach out to for help.I think when I look at certainly my position,I don't have all the answers.But I do have a lot of people that do have answers,and I have the ability to bring those people together.But as a prosecutor, it's the discretion,whether it's a drug court program where you're

    • 17:29

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: trying to keep people out of prison or a diversion programwhere you're trying to avoid a conviction altogether.The frustrating thing, though, from a prosecutor's perspectiveis oftentimes, when it comes to treatment,we're trying to force people into treatment.So it's go to treatment or go to jail, or go to treatmentor have a conviction.And that works to some extent.

    • 17:50

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: And I've talked to a lot of peoplethat have been successful in recovery thathave told me the only thing that got them throughwas the fear of going to prison or going to jail.So that has to be there to some extentas long as it's used appropriately.But if you can avoid that-- if you can even avoid the arrestand avoid keeping people in the system-- that's even better.Because rather than try to force somebody into treatment

    • 18:12

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: by go to treatment or go to prison,if you can get people that want treatment-- because weall know it's not until people want it.That's when they're going to be most successful.And getting back to the Way Out program,that's one of the things I like most about that.Because this population of people,they're coming to us saying help me.So we're not saying go to treatment or go to jail.

    • 18:34

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: These people are saying help me, and we'rehelping them help themselves.I think that's going to be a lot more successful.And I think it's certainly the more appropriate wayto deal with the issue.

    • 18:45

      MAN: We have a lot of people involvedin this-- obviously, [INAUDIBLE],Gateway, the Health Department.Lots of different MOUs were sent out.There's a lot of people involved and engaged.We've been working on this for over a year.So it's very exciting that we're ready to launch.We really appreciate your support.And what we're going to ask you guys to do eventuallyover the next couple weeks is help us spread the word.Our overall goal is that people use this program.

    • 19:08

      MAN [continued]: And from the wonderful research that Kevin Kaminsky,as our recovery consultant, he has actually gone outto the community, asked them whatwould make you take advantage of this program.What wouldn't make you take advantage of this program?Would you be scared to [INAUDIBLE]?Why?So by giving people a way out of their current situation,it's a little bit more general, unassuming.

    • 19:29

      MAN [continued]: It's broader.And we actually are using it in all of our taglines.

    • 19:34

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: When I look at the, quote unquote, drugwar from a prosecution perspective,I think for a long time, law enforcementhas looked at this from purely a supplyand of the supply and demand side of the chain.And ultimately, for the people that sell drugs,it's a business.The gangs that bring drugs into our community, that sell them,

    • 19:58

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: it's a business for them.And like any business, it boils down to supply and demand.And law enforcement has really always almost exclusivelylooked at supply and pretty much ignored demand.And that's not effective.We have to look at both.Supply-- we have to focus on supply.We have to go after the drug dealers.We have to go after the drug cartels.

    • 20:18

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: We have to try to stop that.But we also have to go and help peoplethat are struggling with addiction and get them help,get them out of the criminal justice system.These people don't belong in jail or prison.They need help.They need treatment.Get them out of the system.Reduce the supply.Not only is it the right thing to dofrom just a human perspective, but it's really a smart thing

    • 20:40

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to do in terms of law enforcement.Because now you're attacking the problem, again,from both supply and demand.So that's something we can do as prosecutors,is shift that focus from all penal, all supply,all punitive to treating people that are strugglingwith addiction, helping them, and then also being aggressive

    • 21:02

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: with the drug dealers that are profiting offof killing people.I just want to thank everybody.This has been a huge undertaking.It's a really big deal.We're going to be the first county in the countryto do this county-wide at this level.Like anybody in my position, I go to a lot of meetings.And I think we all find ourselves going to meetings.And nobody likes to go to a meeting just

    • 21:23

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: to go to a meeting.And one of the things I love about the Opiate Initiative isit's not just a meeting.We get things done.We set goals, we set deadlines, and we accomplish those goals,oftentimes faster than the deadline.And that just shows you, when you get a group of volunteerstogether and they're committed and passionate about whatthey're trying to do, things happen.

    • 21:43

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: Magic happens.And it's really neat.And we come to these meetings.We have our meeting that lasts an hour and a half, two hours.But that's just encapsulating all the workthat's been done in between the meetings.And oftentimes, what we'll do is follow up after a meeting.Yeah.So what's going on with [INAUDIBLE] Law?I know we passed the House.Where are we are at?

    • 22:01

      WOMAN: [INAUDIBLE] Law, the [INAUDIBLE] lawthat's going to allow states funding,grant funding to launch their pharmacist over-the-program[INAUDIBLE] program, well, we're at the point where they'regoing to decide, along with the other 17 bills, what'sgoing to make it into the Comprehensive Addictionand Recovery Act.And then whatever gets chosen will go to the president's desk

    • 22:23

      WOMAN [continued]: for signature.

    • 22:24

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Wow.And you were just in Washington for a week, right?

    • 22:28

      WOMAN: I was.And I'm probably going to have to go back againin the next couple of months thanks to Congressman Dold.

    • 22:33

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: It's big stuff happening.

    • 22:34

      WOMAN: Yes, huge.It's very exciting.

    • 22:37

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Chelsea and I will sit down.Chelsea is one of the founding members of the Lake CountyOpioid Initiative.She tragically lost her brother to a heroin overdose.And she can tell you her own story.But her and I met before I even became the state's attorney,back when talking about heroin was like talking to a wall.

    • 22:58

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: Nobody would listen.And we were both feeling that same frustration.And we met each other, actually, at our local county fair.She had a booth set up where she was promoting her organizationand trying to spread awareness.I was quite frankly trying to get elected,and walking around talking about this issue.And we met.And here you have two people thathave been beating their heads against the wall,

    • 23:19

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: trying to get the word out.And we shared that same passion.Mine wasn't anywhere near to the extent hers was,because this hits her very personally.But we formed this team.And we brought in law enforcement.We brought in some treatment providers.There were four of us.And we sat down, and we built the Lake County OpiateInitiative.So it's really neat to see this thing come from just an idea we

    • 23:43

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: had sitting around a table talkingto a packed room full of people that come togetherfrom every discipline you can imagine.And we had Walgreen's Corporation in the room today.We have DEA that shows up.This is something that has grown.But most importantly, it's not just the meeting.Things get done.

    • 24:01

      WOMAN: I wanted to say thank you guysso much for all the wonderful work that you're doing.I'm a substance abuse counselor and a mentally ill substanceabuse therapist.I've been working in the field for 15 years.And for the amount of time that I'veseen you guys actually start this thing and get movingand get people behind you, it is just

    • 24:21

      WOMAN [continued]: an awesome thing to witness.

    • 24:23

      MICHAEL NERHEIM: Lives are being saved.We reported out-- we often start our meetingswith how many lives has law enforcement savedissuing the lock zone.And today, we gave a report of 80 saves.Which is kind of nice when you can sit back and talkabout-- here there's 80 lives saved because of something westarted.Not to pat yourself on the back, but it feels good.

    • 24:45

      MICHAEL NERHEIM [continued]: It feels good to have an idea, to get people together,bring people together, and see real progress,see real results.

Addiction's Impact on Society

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Abstract

Michael Nerheim discusses addiction's impact on society, particularly focusing on opioid addiction. The opioid addiction is an extremely destructive epidemic affecting many throughout America. Nerheim discusses heroin policing, treatment options, and his initiative called A Way Out.

SAGE Video In Practice
Addiction's Impact on Society

Michael Nerheim discusses addiction's impact on society, particularly focusing on opioid addiction. The opioid addiction is an extremely destructive epidemic affecting many throughout America. Nerheim discusses heroin policing, treatment options, and his initiative called A Way Out.

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