Addiction program launches in Illinois

A project aimed at providing information to judges on addiction treatment recently launched in Illinois.

Project ECHO, an Appalachian/Midwest Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (RJOI) program, will provide Illinois judges presiding over criminal and family court cases with information on evidence-based programming interventions, medication-assisted treatment, and the physiology of addiction.  The goal is to help judges address opioid abuse.

Two doctors from the University of Chicago will communicate with 15 judges from across the state in seven weekly one-hour Zoom sessions.

Each session will have two parts:  The doctors will provide information on opioid addiction and treatment and answer the judges’ questions during the first 40 minutes.  A group discussion on how opioids impact individuals entering courtrooms will take up the remainder of the time.  The group will develop strategies to assist and manage these situations.

“This opportunity to learn from medical experts on the science of addiction and evidence-based best practices when interacting with litigants with opioid abuse issues is invaluable and will help us as judges better meet the challenges the opioid crisis has had on children, families and justice involved individuals we see every day in our courtrooms,” Maureen Ward Kirby, a Cook County Circuit Judge, said.

Kirby is an Illinois Project ECHO judicial coordinator and an Appalachian/Midwest Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative team member.

Melina Druga

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