CHICAGO — Facing a mental health crisis, Chicago Police and the City Council are exploring alternative treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The doctor at the forefront of one of those treatments is Dr. Eugene Lipov with the Stella Center, who explained the impact of his work to the committees on health and human relations and public safety.
“What I’m trying to do is reduce the misery associated with PTSD,” Lipov said.
Lipov injects a topical anesthetic into nerves in patients’ necks to target the fight-or-flight system.
“And it turns out that when we numb up the nerves in the neck, it seems to reset the system to before trauma level,” he said.
He says the treatment is used mostly in special forces, but several CPD officers, like Commander Melinda Linas, have also received it to combat the toll of trauma in their lives.
“It made me a better person, it made me a better mother, it made me a better wife, it made me a better police officer,” she said.
“While the treatment did not alleviate my anxiety, it gave me a tremendous amount of room to breathe,” added CPD Sgt. Darrell Beatty.
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“It changed my life,” said CPD Officer Mike Leverett.
The shot is called the SGB, also referred to as the ‘God shot’ because of its impact. At $1,500-$2,000 a shot, some aldermen are advocating it be covered by officers’ health insurance, a flex spending plan, or even by grants funded by the City Council.
The Chicago Police Department has dealt with four officer suicides this year alone.
“I don’t know what path I would have gone down,” Linas said. “I was not suicidal at the time, but I don’t know, I might have veered down that path of darkness because I didn’t have any light.”
The FDA has not approved the drug for PTSD treatment.
“Can the city of Chicago or can any city advocate for the use of any type of treatment if it’s not FDA approved?” asked Ald. James Kappleman (46th Ward).
Some aldermen want to make sure if it’s used, it’s part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
“I think there needs to be an understanding that it’s also not an end-all-be-all, like oh, I got my shot, it’s great,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward).