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Police Department Helps Fast Track Addicts into Treatment

One of the problems with getting drug addicts into addiction treatment is the availability of beds in residential centers. Residential centers, by the way, deliver the best and most successful treatment programs. But in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the police department has a new program that could help a lot of people! Here’s how it works.

They call it the ‘Angel Program’ and are referring to it as an Amnesty. If someone brings their drugs into the police station, and they agree to get treatment, the police will not bring any charges against them for the drugs.

A short intake is done when the person comes to the station and they are assigned an ‘angel’ – often someone who has already overcome their addiction. The police then take the addict to the nearest hospital, where they are met by their angel. Then angel then ‘fast tracks’ the person into treatment.

The first day of the Amnesty – June 1st – no one showed up. The police were pretty discouraged about it, but thought it might be the kind of thing that builds somewhat slowly.

And it has been doing just that. As of June 16th, 17 people have come to the police station to get into the program.  And all 17 have been assigned to a treatment facility. They’ve all been in Massachusetts – which covers the funding for anyone without insurance with money taken in drug seizures – but a lot of other states are coming forward and offering help. So far, 22 agencies in 15 states have agreed to pay for those without health insurance.

The Gloucester area, which has a population of 29,000, have been coping with drug-related deaths and even though 17 people didn’t seem like a lot, the police are very pleased. The number of enrollees are three times the number of people who died so far this year.

Gloucester police Chief Leonard Campanello hopes the program will grow in Gloucester, and in other cities. “We need to get people into treatment,” he said. “If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”

The mayor of Boston is now considering implementing the program in Boston, and it looks like it’s going to spread throughout the U.S.

If you are in the Gloucester area and need help, or know someone who does, contact the police department and find out more about this program.

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