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Police Helping Addicts into Treatment is a Growing Trend Saving Lives

Police Helping Addicts into Treatment is a Growing Trend Saving Lives

Against the back-drop of divisiveness about the relationship between the public and law enforcement, it is important to recognize the police departments and citizens working together to triumph over the greatest obstacles our communities face. All across America the words ‘protect and serve’ still mean something, and many of the brave men and women behind the badge are fighting to help addicts get a second chance.

The Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts set an inspiring new precedence back in 2015 when they began an initiative to allow drug users come to the police to ask for help. Users were told they could submit drugs to local law enforcement without fear of punitive action, and ask for help getting into inpatient treatment. This amazing shift in approach created a new sense of compassion for the addicts struggling to get clean, setting up a new system to try and heal the community instead of punish it. Police helping addicts into treatment has since become a growing trend in several states as more and more officials realize that the old ways aren’t really working.

A study published December of 2016 in The New England Journal of Medicine found the Gloucester program was showing admirable success.

Community advocates, police officers and political officials across America have begun modeling new programs after this approach, while others are pushing for similar opportunities. Some of these programs have been especially successful, while others have not been particularly sought after. Checking in on the way different areas are handling the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak, these initiatives make us believe there is still hope on the horizon.

Programs with Police Helping Addicts into Treatment

Let’s look at some of the programs that have adopted this new approach to supporting their suffering neighbors instead of trying to punish their way out of the problem.

  1. Safe Passage

The Safe Passage program was also started 2 years ago by the Police Department of Dixon, Illinois. Since then it has extended to a few other close by counties. Safe Passage has helped place 170 people into treatment, and so far the Police Chief Danny Langloss reports that more than half of those who got access to treatment through the program have had success after rehab.

Chief Langloss claims that in 2016, misdemeanor and felony drug arrests dropped by 39%, and he believes Safe Passage had a lot to do with it.

  1. A Way Out

Police helping addicts into treatment in Lake County have joined forces from several areas to offer participants a change to receive addiction treatment. A Way Out launched a year ago, and according to their sources an average of around 12 people a month have reached out for help through the program. If this went on for a steady 12 months that means at least 144 people have been given a chance at getting help.

A Way Out accepts participants no matter where they live. According to Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther some families have brought their loved ones from different states to get access to treatment. Some instances there have even been individuals with criminal charges who have their warrants waived to enter the program.

  1. Connect for Life

Naperville, Illinois also has a strong force of police helping addicts into treatment. Their version, called Connect for Life, directly connects individuals in need of treatment with social workers and recovering addicts who have stayed clean after treatment called ‘recovery liaisons’.

The idea here is to stay connected with each individual through the process of finding treatment, and beyond that to help them with finding sober homes, employment opportunities and other resources.

  1. Kindness

Anaheim Police Department in California has its own program offering free treatment to any drug users willing to ask for help. Part of the Kindness initiative with police helping addicts into treatment is the offer to receive the Naltrexone implant, which is designed to block the effects of opioids and alcohol in the brain.

Law enforcement officials in Anaheim acknowledge that they cannot arrest away addiction. They are hopeful eliminating the fear of asking for help will be instrumental in saving more lives.

  1. HOPE

In Nashville, North Carolina the Police Department started an initiative called HOPE, modeled after the Gloucester Police Department’s program. Since it launched back in February of 2016, about 172 people from multiple states have sought treatment through HOPE.

Again, police notice a profound impact on their community, crediting a 40% drop in crimes related to substance use disorder to the HOPE program.

  1. Chatham Cares 4 U

A year ago in July, the Chathman, New York Police Department teamed up with PAARI to create the Chatham Cares 4 U Outreach Initiative Program. The police helping addicts into treatment urged their communities to feel safe coming to the police station to turn over drugs and paraphernalia, and to ask for help with treatment.

Chatham Cares 4 U and the success it has brought to the community has inspired other police departments in the state to create similar addiction recovery initiatives in their communities. Chathman Police Chief Volkmann also travels around New York to speak to police departments and other organizations about the program.

  1. Safe Stations Program

In Maryland, Anne Arundel County Police and Fire Departments are collaborating with the Annapolis Police and Fire Departments to offer help to drug users in their area. The Safe Stations program launched in April of this year, opening the doors to the combined 38 stations for individuals seeking help with their addiction. Safe Stations was the first of its kind in Maryland, with locations open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to people needing help.

In just the few months it has been open, this initiative of police helping addicts into treatment has already placed over 18 people into treatment.

The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative

The PAARI program is a nationwide nonprofit organization that was started to support any local police departments in their efforts to work with opioid addicts. In the midst of the opioid epidemic there has been a massive movement toward innovative strategies for helping people, and the PAARI united after the Gloucester Police Department instituted their revolutionary program to focus on saving lives and changing them for the better.

The PAARI works with various elements across the country, including:

  • The medical community
  • Science-based recovery programs
  • Police departments

PAARI is made up of private citizens, philanthropists, business owners, law enforcement leaders, and prominent members of the academic community who all share the same mission of helping those addicted to drugs in their area get the help they desperately need. PAARI coordinates with volunteers, corporate partners and treatment centers, along with police helping addicts into treatment.

The first annual report for the PAARI made a very exciting statement, saying:

“Communities that have joined PAARI have observed as much as a 25% reduction in crimes associated with addiction, cost savings by diverting people into treatment rather than triggering the criminal justice system, as well as an enormous increase in trust from their communities.”

Participants in the program speak in overwhelming praise of the PAARI program’s methods.

More Compassion Changing the World

While some people are still pushing the argument that ‘tough on crime’ and the War on Drugs are the best way to end the addiction issue, we have seen time and time again that we cannot punish and imprison our way out of addiction. Compassionate programs using community resources to help people get better instead of making their lives worse seems like a better way of taking care of each other.

We are happy to see so many police helping addicts into treatment all over the country, and we hope more communities chose to use resources to help those struggling find a chance to change their lives.

Palm Healthcare Company knows that compassion is a key element of comprehensive and effective care for substance abuse and addiction treatment. Our hope is that more community leaders, politicians and law enforcement officials continue working together to make everyone’s lives better. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Sterilize for Cash: This Woman Pays Drug Addicts To Not Have Kids

Sterilize for Cash: This Woman Pays Drug Addicts To Not Have Kids

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Barbara Harris believes drug addicts should not have children, and she’s using cash incentives to ensure they never do.

For the last 20 years, Harris has driven across the country in a branded RV advertising her non-profit to drug addicts and alcoholics.

Her mission? To reduce the number of children born addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Her nonprofit, Project Prevention, pays substance abusers up to $300 to get sterilized or put on long term birth control like an implant or IUD. Those who get sterilized receive a lump sum and those who opt for less permanent birth control options get their payments in smaller installments.

To date, Harris’s organization has paid more than 7,000 people, mostly women, to give up their fertility. Project Prevention only pays the addicts and leaves the sterilizations and birth control procedures to doctors.

Harris believes the cash incentive is stopping a major societal problem in its tracks:

“We’re preventing women who are strung out on drugs and alcohol from conceiving a child,” Harris says. “Nobody has a right to force-feed any child drugs and then deliver a child that may die or may have lifelong illnesses.”

Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can result in a host of medical complications. The use of heroin and narcotic painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, or morphine can cause bleeding within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) and even infant death.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is defined as: “a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb,” according to Medscape.

Here are Some Tragic Truths:

  • Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms from the heroin, painkillers, or cocaine their mothers continued using throughout pregnancy.
  • The numbers of babies born addicted to drugs have quadrupled between 2004 and 2013.
  • In 2013, 27 babies out of every 1000 were born dependent on narcotics.
  • These babies suffer from withdrawal symptoms like irritability, convulsions, sleep abnormalities and joint stiffness.
  • Often, these babies must be sent to intensive care units where doctors help wean them off the drugs.
  • It is taking longer to wean addicted babies off drugs such as heroin and mephedrone. On average, babies now spend their first 19 days – up from 13 days – in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
  • In 2015, the average overall cost of a newborn suffering from NAS was found to be between $159,000 and $238,000, and these numbers are expected to continue to rise.

In terms of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is another tragic outcome.  Fetal alcohol syndrome can seriously harm the development of a baby during pregnancy, both mentally and physically. These effects can last throughout a child’s life.

FAS harms a baby in many ways including:

  • Birth defects
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Low birth weight
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Behavioral problems
  • Growth deficiency
  • Death

Some say Harris’s Organization Raises SERIOUS Ethical Questions

Harris’s mission to reduce these pregnancies seems straightforward. However, many feel her organization raises serious ethical questions.   One question posed is whether she is taking advantage of addicts during their most vulnerable time.

A major critic of Project Prevention is Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. She’s been a critic of Harris’s work for over 20 years.

“Barbara Harris greatest impact is in perpetuating really destructive and cruel myths about pregnant women and their children,” Paltrow says.

Paltrow believes Harris’s organization does more harm than good and does not address the underlying problems of poverty, lack of access to healthcare and stress created by racism have on these women. Instead, she feels Harris’s organization does nothing more but promote stigma.

“When you talk to the medical researchers, the great news is that none of the criminalized drugs cause unique permanent terrible damage,” Paltrow says. “Three percent of all women give birth to babies that have what are called serious birth defects. None of that has anything to do with the criminalized drugs.”

Another strong critic featured is Mary Barr, a former addict who believes what Harris is doing is wrong. Barr has two children who were born healthy despite her drug use.

 “I have two children who are incredibly healthy, were born healthy, they’re 26 and 25, and they’re very amazingly successful,” she says.

When asked if she would have taken up on Harris’s offer at the height of her addiction, she says she would have.

“I would have taken it because $300 all at once, that means for me, three nights of sleeping indoors,” she says referring to her predicament back then.

Is Project Prevention Denying Addicts a Second Chance? 

Despite the controversy, Harris believes what her organization is doing is the right thing for the children. She does not believe she is promoting sterilization. Instead, she says what she offers is a choice.

“We don’t promote sterilization, that’s their choice. They got strung out; they decided they wanted $300 to sterilize themselves, and if it’s a decision they regret, it was a decision they made just like prostituting and ending up with AIDS,” she says.

One of the reasons Harris is so passionate about this is because she adopted and raised four children from the same mother who used drugs throughout her pregnancy. She wants to prevent other children from being born in the same situation.

“I watched how my children suffered and had to withdraw from drugs when they were born so no, I wasn’t thinking about  ‘These poor women,’ I was thinking ‘My poor children,’” she says.

 “I always say to them if you believe that strongly that these women should keep conceiving children then you should step up and adopt the next one born, but most of the people who have a problem with what we’re doing would never consider adopting one of these children, so if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” she concludes

Overall, like most harm reduction programs, this solution is controversial. There are many addicts who have recovered and gone on to have and raise children. Sadly, there are children born every day addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the consequences are real. Harris’s organization receives over $500,000 in funding every year. Clearly, there are many on her side when it comes to providing this option.


What are your thoughts? Does a program like this promote stigma or offer a solution? Either way, please do not continue to let your addiction take over your life. You deserve the opportunity to live a healthy and satisfying life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please call now 1-800-777-9588. 

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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