McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition History

The McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition was started 15 years ago by a small group of treatment providers who recognized the growing danger presented by the rise in Heroin abuse in our communities.  At the time, there was little awareness of this new trend of abuse of this dangerous drug.  This group, which would in time grow to include many more members, was driven by the need to take action and to raise awareness.  We were part of an adolescent and adult “LAN” (local area network) of concerned treatment providers.

In 2002, the Coalition, co-sponsored by the Northwest Herald, hosted our area’s first Heroin awareness seminar at McHenry County College.  The event was attended by over 400 people and highlighted the growing concern felt by many parents, those in law enforcement as well as other professionals.

2004 saw another seminar at McHenry County College specifically for school officials, professionals and law enforcement

At the request of the community of Marengo, we held a Heroin awareness seminar at the school which helped to bring attention to the dangers they were facing at the time.

At this point the coalition was holding monthly meetings open to people in the community with interests  related to drugs and alcohol and the toll those substances were taking on our area.  New members joined and the coalition continued to grow through 2006 and 2007.

In 2007 we spent a lot of time reaching out to local schools, hospitals and law enforcement and had several new members join us in our mission.  We really began to branch out to focus on other substances, and helped to support the new “Social Host Law,” and began the Underage Drinking Task Force.

In 2013 we were awarded the Drug Free Community Grant from the National Office of Drug Control.

We participated in the HEAT task force and incorporated many of those values and county-wide efforts when the task force disbanded.  As marijuana legalization came to our County, we began to examine the effects it would have on our community.

The McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition also works with the following counties to address substance issues:  Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force, Lake County Opioid Initiative, DuPage County Health Department Community Initiatives, Boone County Drug Prevention Coalition, Chicago Opioid Action Task Force (COAT), and other Illinois Drug Free Community coalition awardees.

We are now seen as the place to get accurate and current information on substance abuse in McHenry County. The Coalition continues to focus on community education and awareness and we work to support McHenry County and surrounding areas safe from drug abuse. To this end, we have pioneered our area’s prescription take back program, advocated to have Narcan available to our first responders and helped to shape the synthetic retail ban (the best in the state).