An Idea for Treating Drug Addiction Amongst Veterans

The Police Department in Gloucester, Massachusetts is trying a revolutionary approach to decreasing the number of inmates in the prison system while helping addicts get their lives back on track. In response to the success in Gloucester and the incredibly positive public feedback, the Chief and a local businessman have launched the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). PAARI was started as a way to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts. The program in Gloucester is such that if an addict (any addict) asks the police department for help, they will be taken to a hospital and placed in a recovery program – no arrests will be made and the addict will stay out of jail.

This seems similar to the needle programs of the 90s and 2000s, where addicts turned in their used needles for new needles, as a way to decrease HIV transmission amongst drug users. If I’m not mistaken, the areas of the country which took the program seriously and were able to fund to the needs of the community had pretty successful decreases in HIV transmission via dirty needles. The key to the program was the user wouldn’t be arrested or jailed for drug use or paraphernalia. In some areas, they’d be required to undertake some sort of counseling, but nothing like recovery treatment. Other areas, the goal was not to treat the drug user, the goal was simply to stop the spread of HIV amongst a high-risk population.

The major difference is this program addresses the disease of addiction, not just some other disease challenge associated with a high-risk group; and they aren’t treating addiction as a crime. This may be exactly the right approach for decreasing opioid usage around the country.

There is absolutely no reason why this type of approach could not be used to help treat veterans with addiction challenges. I think it would be important to make sure an honorable discharge was not a requirement, but I think it would be an amazingly successful program that would help decrease the amount of addicts who are veterans. If the VA partnered with military bases and had someone at every single CBOC, Vet Center and hospital who could be the point for coordinating the confiscation of the drug and other paraphernalia and then getting the vet into recovery treatment immediately, then maybe we could help vets get their lives back on tracks. This would give vets who maybe otherwise wouldn’t get treatment in dealing with PTSD and mental health issues the ability to get help.

Honestly, I think we need to reassess the people who have other than honorable and dishonorable discharges; but that’s a completely different post.

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Advanced Recovery Systems Partners with the Gloucester Initiative

Police Chief Leonard Campanello and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken are pleased to report Advanced Recovery Systems, based in Florida, is joining the Gloucester Police Department’s ANGEL Initiative.

As of Friday morning, 55 people have been placed into treatment programs by the Gloucester Initiative since June 1, when the program began.

The ANGEL program allows people who suffer from addiction to turn over their remaining drug supply and paraphernalia to the Gloucester Police Department without the threat of arrest. Those in need of help are put into treatment programs as opposed to jail cells. The policy went into effect last month in an effort to address a growing opioid epidemic and to reduce the number of overdoses in Massachusetts.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter

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