Gateway Presents New Program at National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

The National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit took place in Atlanta this week, and two of Gateway’s own attended to speak about a new program on Thursday. Also in attendance were special speakers President Bill Clinton, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.

Karen Wolownik-Albert, Gateway Lake Villa executive director, and Sally Thoren, Chicago-Independence executive director, presented on Project Warm Hand Off. This federally funded initiative targets those struggling with opioid use and works to remove barriers to treatment. Using the Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model, this program aims to connect people struggling with opioid use disorders to treatment directly from emergency departments. Recovery coaches follow up with patients to ensure the Warm Hand Off is completed, and also with patients who initially declined assistance. “We call it ‘intercepting’ those in crisis and shepherding them to care,” Thoren says.

Biggest takeaways

“We were thrilled to find our room full of interested attendees,” Thoren says. “We found that the challenges we faced in implementation have been experienced by most others as well, including delays in hospitals agreeing to partner, capacity issues, and challenges with the Medicaid changes.”

Thoren left the conference struck by New York’s coordinated, state-wide efforts against the opioid crisis.

“They have obtained the waiver that allows for more services to be paid by Medicaid, so they don’t have the capacity challenges we face in Illinois,” she elaborates. “They have robust needle exchange programs, embracing a harm-reduction approach. They have outstanding data demonstrating their effectiveness.”

Dr. Adams’ presentation garnered most of the national attention: He issued the first surgeon general national public health advisory in 13 years, urging more Americans to carry naloxone, an antidote that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses overdoses.

“We fully support the surgeon general’s advisory,” Wolownik-Albert says. “At Gateway, we have been working for several years to increase naloxone access and provide education to clients, alumni, and family. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in need of naloxone has access to this life-saving medication. We train all of our staff on overdose prevention and administering naloxone.”

“In northern Illinois, we are very fortunate in comparison to other areas of the country, to have many programs and collaborations to combat the Opioid Epidemic,” Wolownik-Albert says.

Dr. Adams stated that more access to naloxone alone will not solve this crisis – access to evidence-based treatment also must be expanded.

“The ‘tone’ was one of action, not a ‘call to action,’” Thoren says. “That is, since there is universal agreement that this crisis is real, the need is great, the tone was ‘we are doing’ as opposed to ‘we must do.’”




naloxone, heroin, opioids, webinar, free ceu training, gateway alcohol and drug treatmentThis November, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment is offering an expert-led webinar about the importance of growing Illinois’ Naloxone-friendly zones to reverse the opioid overdose epidemic. Join us during your lunchtime on November 13th or 18th to earn a continuing education credit courtesy of Gateway!

The goal of this webinar is to encourage healthcare professionals to take the most appropriate course of action in the event of an opioid overdose. Learn valuable information related to overdose and Naloxone as presented by Carl Scroggins, Gateway’s resident expert on overdose prevention.

  • 1 CEU – IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing,
  • Cost: FREE with Registration
  • Registration only available online



Thursday, November 13th
12:30p.m. – 1:30p.m.
(Additional Time for Q&A)

Tuesday, Novmeber 18th
12:30p.m. – 1:30p.m.
(Additional Time for Q&A)

Space is limited! Register today at


Gateway Embraces Solutions to Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Pictured: Sitting - Patricia Kates-Collins, Deputy Director, Division of Program Services, Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse - Standing - Carl Scroggins, Program Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Heroin

Pictured: Sitting – Patricia Kates-Collins, Deputy Director, Division of Program Services, Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Standing – Carl Scroggins, Program Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

To help further awareness surrounding the heroin overdose epidemic, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers participated in the first Drug Overdose Awareness Event hosted by the Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (IDHS/DASA) on Aug. 26, 2014, at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Hundreds of attendees gleaned from expert presenters the physiological effects of opioid/heroin intoxication, the importance of adopting overdose prevention strategies and how to get involved with DASA Drug Overdose Prevention.

As part a concerted state-wide effort to save lives, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Program Supervisor Carl Scroggins encouraged other treatment providers to implement heroin and opioid overdose rescue strategies as Gateway has done. Scroggins stressed the importance of training to ensure that staff feel comfortable administering Naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose. He also encouraged attendees with family members who may be at risk for overdose to obtain Naloxone rescue kits and training through participating community agencies.

heroin problems, heroin overdose

According to The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, the Chicagoland area has the nation’s most severe heroin problem as measured by 2010 emergency room visits—24,360 heroin-related admissions—in comparison, the second highest recorded number of heroin-related emergency room visits was 12,226 in New York City.

“Most fatal overdoses are unintentional. That’s why it’s so important to get Naloxone in as many of ‘right hands’ as possible because it has proven to be an extremely effective solution—with the potential to  save thousands of  precious lives. Quick access to Naloxone can mean the difference between manageable drug relapse and death,” explains Dr. John Larson, Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers.

To help individuals recover from heroin and opioid addiction, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers rely upon a personalized, integrated substnace abuse treatment approach. To manage the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that occur when heroin use stops, individuals under Gateway’s care have on-site access to medications like Suboxone® and Vivitrol along with substance abuse counseling, therapy and education offered at Gateway Treatment Centers.

For more facts and resources about heroin abuse and treatment options, please visit

DuPage County Panel Says Naloxone Offers Hope for Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Jim Scarpace, Executive Director at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora, speaks about heroin abuse and the overdose drug, naloxone.

Jim Scarpace, Executive Director at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora, speaks about heroin abuse and the overdose drug, naloxone.

As Chicagoland suburbs continue to combat an onslaught of lethal heroin overdoses, those close to the issue are making a concerted effort to educate area professionals and residents about potential solutions. Earlier this week, Gateway Foundation’s Jim Scarpace joined community leaders in a round-table discussion put together by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster’s office to talk about naloxone, known as the heroin overdose anecdote drug, and how it could be used to fight DuPage County’ overdose epidemic.

A life-saving substance administered by syringe or inhaled, naloxone is an opioid marketed under the brand name Narcan. Panelists unanimously agreed: naloxone saves lives, and it needs to be put into the hands of people positioned to use it for that purpose.

Gateway’s Jim Scarpace explained to participants that naloxone does not create a high and is not addictive. It works to reverse the effects of overdoses on all drugs classified as opioids – this includes heroin and some types of prescription pain medications, such as OxyContin and Percocet.

“Most people aren’t aware of naloxone, and what it can do,” said Jim Scarpace, executive director, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora. “However, access is not easily gained by some people.”

But progress is being made here in Illinois. Naloxone is not available in every state; only 17 states (including Illinois) and District of Columbia have passed laws to distribute it. Furthermore, among these states, Illinois is one of 10 that allow for third parties, such as a family member or friend of an intravenous drug user, to be prescribed naloxone.

Learn more about naloxone and how Illinois legislation is addressing the heroin epidemic.

Other topics discussed include:

  • The Good Samaritan Law, which is passed in Illinois, is intended to encourage bystanders to seek medical help for overdose victims. The bystander who calls 911 or seeks medical help will receive immunity from criminal charges for drug possession (except for marijuana). The overdose victim is protected, too.
  • Issues about naloxone accessibility and whether it should be an over-the-counter drug.
  • Medication available to aid in treating heroin addiction.

Held at the Yellow Box Christian Community Church in Naperville, the round table is one in a series of events organized by Congressman Foster to galvanize community leaders and concerned residents to address the uptick in heroin overdoses. Participating organizations and individuals include: Beacon-News Columnist Denise Crosby; DuPage County Health Department; DuPage Metropolitan Group; Gateway Foundation; Naperville resident Karen Hanneman whose son Justin Tokar died of a heroin overdose in 2011; and Yellow Box Community Christian Church.

Make yourself part of the solution to the heroin epidemic. Create greater awareness to reverse the disconcerting heroin trends impacting our communities. Learn more at


Did you more people die of drug overdoses than car accidents in Illinois? In fact, many residents may not be aware but Illinois is one of only 14 states that have passed the Emergency Medical Services Access Act/The Good Samaritan Overdose Law (Illinois Public Act 097-0678), which went into effect in June 2012 to reduce the number of overdose deaths.

Before the law, too many victims were dropped off alone and unconscious outside the doors of hospitals or even abandoned by friends to die for fear of criminal prosecution.

The Good Samaritan Law is meant to encourage bystanders witnessing a drug overdose to seek medical help for the victim. The bystander who calls 911 or seeks medical help will receive immunity from criminal charges for drug possession (except for marijuana). The overdose victim also is protected.

Overdose Anecdote

Legislation passed in 2009 made Illinois one of 16 states that allow distribution without requiring a doctor to prescribe every dose of naloxone, an opiate antagonist that reverses the effect of overdose from opiates like heroin.

The law’s implementation in 2010 ended what had been a legal conundrum of how to distribute a drug to someone to give to someone else, or to a user who might not need to take a dose for months. Naloxone gives concerned loved ones and care givers a window of opportunity to save a life until emergency medical help arrives.

To ensure the safety of opiate dependent individuals in treatment, all Gateway Foundation treatment centers have naloxone available and trained professionals to administer it.

“The increase in heroin overdose deaths is troubling. That is why we do everything we can to ensure the health, comfort and safety of the teens and adults we treat for opiate dependency,” says Sally Thoren, Executive Director, Gateway Foundation Chicago West. “Before the law was enacted, in the event of an overdose treatment centers would have to call 911 and lose precious minutes waiting for the help to arrive.”

If you know someone who needs help breaking free from opioids, Gateway Foundation can help. For a free and confidential consultation, please call 877-505-4673.

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