They’re some of the first to arrive at the scene when there is a critical overdose, a person in need, or a troublesome situation. While some find comfort with the men and women on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, it can be a contentious relationship for others.
For someone struggling with an addiction, asking for help in general can be daunting, but asking for help from the police sounds like a one-way ticket to jail. On the contrary, many people suffering from addiction and searching for help are finding some of their best allies in their local police force, and that relationship is spreading around the country.
In 2015, the former Gloucester police chief started its own ANGEL program to great success, and went on to start the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) with the idea that if anyone seeking help for their addiction were to arrive at the police station, they would be taken to a treatment center instead of jail. PAARI has become a nationally recognized organization with the mission to “aid other police departments to implement similar programs, and to foster a dialogue around the unique opportunity for police departments to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in their communities.”
Since then, many programs have popped up with the same mission. The ANGEL program in Gloucester experienced an influx of calls from people as far as California looking for their help. In fact, 80 percent of people who have called the Gloucester PD’s ANGEL program are from out-of-state. When Gloucester police receive a call requesting help from the ANGEL program, officers set them up with one of their “angels,” otherwise known as a hospital representative, treatment center staff, or mental health professional, who will call around and find this person an open bed with a recovery provider. Transportation can be arranged too.
In Southbridge, the Community Assistance Recovery for Everyone (CARE) program launched in 2016 with immense support from the surrounding community. Like many other communities, Southbridge PD saw an influx of overdose calls, and adjusted their work to fit the needs of the people they serve. People with addictions who were once turned away are now being encouraged to show up at the police station where they’ll be given a ride to the nearest treatment center with an open bed. Again, no handcuffs and no jail time. “If you need help, and you’ve reached your absolute bottom, we want you to come to us,” says Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson.
Spectrum Health Systems is proud to be an inaugural partner for both the ANGEL and CARE programs, and is always here to welcome new faces to recovery.
If you’re looking for help in the Southbridge area and would like assistance to with the CARE program, contact the Southbridge Police Department at (508)-764-5420. If you’re looking for help in the Gloucester Area and would like assistance with the ANGEL Program, contact the Gloucester Police Department at (978)-283-1212.
If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center are here 24/7. Our individualized services provide the support you need, when you need it. Learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.