Thursday, June 11, 2009

Substance Abuse Treament Clinic

I sent this out as a media release, from me personally, yesterday and I thought I'd also share it here:

I am the Lake County Coroner. I am also a husband and a parent. I spend some of my free time as the Medical Director of a new substance abuse treatment clinic in Waukegan, by the name of Green Dragonfly.

I agreed to serve as the Medical Director for a number of reasons. Drug overdose is the number one cause of "unnatural" deaths in Lake County. Something needed to be done. The aunt (Mary) of a 25 year old who died of an overdose while on the waiting list for a local treatment program demanded it. The son of an elderly woman who had become dependent (doctor talk for addicted) on pain medications because of inappropriate over-prescribing by her doctor sent me an email in July 2007 asking me where he could take her for treatment. I didn't know. Opiate-related (heroin and prescription drugs) deaths more than tripled 2007 to 2008 and continue high in 2009.

Green Dragonfly opened in October 2008, currently has 92 patients and continues to grow. Mary (mentioned above) put the clinic together and continues as its Office Manager. She asked for my help and I agreed. More than one third of the patients are being treated for addiction to prescription pain medicines or their addiction started with prescription meds. 60% are employed in a variety of jobs while in treatment. The patients live though out Lake County, in McHenry and Kenosha Counties.

Being in treatment helps these people stabilize their lives. People are less likely to break the law. People can be more productive, contributing members of society. Treatment restores them, improves their lives and improves our community.

This substance abuse epidemic must be attacked with prevention, education, and increasing the likelihood that someone who abuses drugs gets treatment by increasing the availability of treatment and eliminating the stigma of seeking help and getting treatment. I want to be able to tell the 6 mothers of children who have had recent overdose deaths that we are doing everything we can to try and prevent a 7th from joining their group.


Jill Davidson said...

My son, Michael Joseph Davidson, died of herion intoxication on June 10, 2008. His passion from a very young age for hockey and snowboarding kept his brother, sister, and his parents constantly on the go. We thought we were one of those families who could take the bumps. Once he began taking drugs he smoked marijuana; later he used cocaine. He told me that he went to the west side and made a buy from a corner boy for "blow" expecting cocaine. It turned out that in Chicago "blows" is herion. Mike described the feeling as a warm blanket around his body and a worm in his brain that he could cut off but it would eventually grow back. The heartbreak of losing a child to herion is actually more than missing him; it's what lives inside me now.

I'm beginning to trust myself to talk with young addicts and their parents if the substance abuse treatment clinic needs a volunteer.

I read your posts and commend you for your straightforwardness.

Melissa said...

Hi Dr. K., I found your blog by accident....or maybe not. You are an amazing individual. Words could never thank you enough for the healing that is happening in my life that you were the catalyst for. I am one of the 92. I really just wanted to die to end the cycle that had become my "life"(if that was living). I now have hope and actually wake in the morning thankful that I have another day above ground. So I will say thank you a million times, but better yet, may my life be a testament to the work you do "in your spare time". Because now I have a life....

Jill Davidson said...

There isn't a phone or address listed for Green Dragonfly. Do you have contact information?

Dr. Richard Keller said...

1738 Washington
Waukegan, IL 60085

847 360 1019

Anonymous said...

A couple things we can do to help get these young people into treatment. When faced with legal intervention, the government can help by making sure the system works. Probation officers need to follow through with random drug testing if that is part of the restriction. They need to actually come to the house - at random - and test these people. PO's should not give notice; ie, call the day before and announce a drug test for 24 hours later. PO's should update themselves with current testing - heroin, cocaine, and other drugs don't stay in young people's systems for long - some don't show at all. "Strip" will mask drugs and does NOT show in tests. It's good to test a day after testing when they think they've passed. Always measure levels of THC content, don't just assume it takes 30 days to leave the body - which it doesn't always. Make sure cops in want of informants are not helping them to pass the tests and pretrial services -