By Anne Eickstadt


The Boone County Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction (COAR program supports the development of comprehensive, locally driven responses to the opioid epidemic,” said Jessica Perillo, MS, CADC, Boone County COAR program manager. “We work to expand access to recovery support services across the community. We support law enforcement and other first responder diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders.

The program staff will:

• Complete substance abuse screenings and referrals at Boone County Jail.

• Identify and connect individuals and their families to recovery support services.

• Provide transportation to treatment services when needed.

• Develop and implement an inclusive plan to enhance and support recovery

• Implement substance abuse and mental health treatment within a local/regional jail.

“We have received two federal grants to fund this program. One of them has been running for about a year now and the other one has just started. The second federal grant is the one that is partnered with local law enforcement. That is where Officer Schwartz’s position is from. So that part of the program just started in June.

“We partner with the jail, local law enforcement, fire, EMS, and basically all of our Boone County First Responders to really work together towards the opioid epidemic. We also help all behavioral health, so Officer Schwartz position will follow up on all behavioral health-related police calls–domestic violence, mental health related, substance abuse … And if substance abuse is involved, then our COAR program will get involved and we will follow up on those types of calls.

“So overdose is really our priority. That is kind of the bulk of what we do out in the community. 

“In the jail, we actually work with defense attorneys, probation, drug court, our nurse in there, and Crusader is also in there as well. Rosekrantz will be coming in there. They are working on hiring an addiction counselor for the jail also from our grant.

“We have quite a large team now. We are really working together to make sure that those who are coming into the jail for behavioral health reasons are leaving with a plan. If they need medication, if they need appointments set up, if they need a connection to a food pantry … We know that clients are not necessarily going to be worried about their recovery if they have no food in the house for their kids. 

“We know that some things just come first and some things are concerning. We want to make sure that not only are we helping them with treatment, we are also helping them with everything so that they can focus on recovery and they don’t have to worry about that other stuff.

“We basically are trying to eliminate as many barriers as possible so that people who are having contact with law enforcement, people who are entering the jail don’t come back. So they don’t get stuck in the revolving door, don’t keep coming in and out of the jail, and continue to have police contact over and over. We try to stop that from continuing to happen. 

“Law enforcement is a huge partner of ours. They are one of our most supportive partners. They, of course, have Officer Schwartz that we are contracted with them to provide a community law enforcement officer. The amount of support that we are getting from our local first responders and law enforcement is overwhelming. It is so positive, everyone just wants to talk about the program … It has been really great. They understand the need for this program also. 

“We don’t expect a police officer to have a lot of time to sit with someone they just got called and go through their whole story, link them with all the resources that they need, and then follow up after that. Their job is just not built for that. But we can. We can partner with them and do all of that follow-up. We will even be happy to respond to someone who has not yet had that police contact and would like to have some help to avoid such a situation.

“We are so excited. We are really ramping up now that we have Officer Schwartz’s position and it is really good. We have two initiatives we are working on right now, which is providing Narcan distribution to local businesses or agencies that need it. 

“We have gotten back so much positive feedback already. Officer Schwartz inbox is always full of email: ‘Thank you for following up.’ ‘Thank you for doing this.’ ‘Thank you for helping me get into treatment.’ And a lot more. We are really excited because we just started and we are already seeing such a positive response.

“We kind of do it all. If they need transportation to a counseling appointment or a medication appointment, if they need someone to set up a substance abuse assessment … If they need someone to just talk to, we have a support group that runs on Wednesday afternoons. Even if someone is already in recovery and is struggling and just wants a little support or who wants to help out or attend the support group, they are welcome.

“Another thing we are working on is to make sure that all of our community resources are being used. I think everyone has so many programs and resources for the community but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with who’s doing what and when. We really want to be the glue to make sure that all of those wonderful resources are getting to the people that need it. I make sure that those who are providing the resources are having people use it. Kind of increasing access to all the community resources that we already do have.

“We are holding a Lunch ‘n Learn for Chamber of Commerce members in August. We will be presenting to some of the local businesses on Thursday, Aug. 19. We will be talking about Narcan distribution. We will be talking about International Overdose Awareness Day, which is on Aug. 31. We will be at the Fair as well. We partner with the Boone County Drug Prevention Coalition.”

If you have any questions about the program, please reach out to Jessica Perillo, program manager, at 815-708-4123 or online at

If you would like to make a referral, contact the COAR Program Navigator Allie Carlstrom, 815-708-4950 to assist you.

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