National Recovery Month: Pekin police continue to work with Gateway Foundation for Safe Passage Initiative

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — September is National Recovery Month, shedding light on the epidemic of substance abuse disorder.

The Safe Passage Initiative offers help instead of handcuffs. The program works with the Gateway Foundation.

Gateway’s website explained the initiative:

“Those who need help recovering from addiction can come to a police station or sheriffs’ department and turn over their drugs without fear of being arrested or criminally charged. While this program is not a get out of jail free card, the program ensures that those who are ready to make a change get the hope and healing they need.”

The Pekin Police Department joined the initiative in 2016 to fight opiate addiction. According to the department’s website, the Illinois program began in Lee County. When Chief John Dossey joined the Pekin Police, he noticed the problem and implemented it here in Central Illinois.

Pekin residents can turn in their drugs and/or paraphernalia, and then immediately get assistance through the Pekin location of Gateway. That person could find a bed in 48 hours at most, whether it be for inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Officer Billie Ingles, Public Information Officer with the Peoria Police Department, said that hopefully awareness of the program will encourage more people to get help for their drug usage.

“What that means to us is hopefully we’re going to get more people that would like to come in and get help for their drug usage,” Ingles said. “Also, it celebrates the ones that have gotten help and have recovered and are still doing good.”

Programs like The Gateway Foundation try to break down barriers to getting help for substance abuse disorder.

“Also, it’s very hard to get into rehab when you’re addicted. It’s just hard to go and get checked in,” Ingles said. “There’s just a lot of programs out there but not enough for the amount of people that want the help.”

For the month of September, the Gateway Foundation is offering free and confidential addiction assessments. That link is available here.

For immediate help, call 911 or the national hotline at 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357).

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