Gloucester, Mass. Will Provide Treatment, Not Jail, for Those Surrendering Illegal Drugs

hands holding cocaine 5-6-15

The Police Chief of Gloucester, Massachusetts has announced the town will provide treatment for people who come to the police station with illegal drugs and paraphernalia, instead of arresting them.

Police Chief Leonard Campanello posted on Facebook, “We will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an ‘angel’ who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.”

Two area hospitals will provide quick treatment to people addicted to heroin or other opioids who come into the station, beginning June 1, The Christian Science Monitor reports. At least one local store will make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available for little or no money, the article notes. The police department will cover the cost for those without health insurance, with funds seized from drug dealers during investigations.

Chief Campanello is planning on travelling to Washington, D.C. next week to discuss Gloucester’s plan with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Congressman Seth Moulton, all of Massachusetts. “I will bring what Gloucester is accomplishing and challenge them to change, at the federal level, how we receive aid, support and assistance. I will bring the idea of how far Gloucester is willing to go to fight this disease and will ask them to hold federal agencies, insurance companies and big business accountable for building a support system that can eradicate opiate addiction and provide long term, sustainable support to reduce recidivism,” he wrote.

This year so far, three fatal overdoses have been reported in Gloucester, a town of 30,000. Seattle launched a similar “treatment, not jail” program in 2011. Last month, the state’s attorney for Cook County said many nonviolent felony drug cases in the Chicago area would be steered to treatment instead of prison.

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    Michael Liepman MD DABAM

    May 8, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    This is a wonderful example of a community of people pulling together to work as a team on a terrible epidemic that is devastating our young people. Instead of treating these sick people as criminals or scum, Gloucester is treating them as their peers who need support and help to shake off the real enemy, the disease of addiction. My hat off to those of you who used your brains and spirits to come up with this innovative plan. You will never regret it.

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    May 8, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    LOVE that the treatment money comes from the dealers!

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    Ashley Marsh

    May 6, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    I love the idea of “On spot help”. From my experience with those who have substance abuse disorders asking someine to “WAIT” ever a day can become fatal for that person. I have seen this happen first hand in the community I live it. I applaud those making an effort to change what clearly is broken.

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    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM

    May 6, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    An interesting concept-worthy of study
    Skip Sviokla MD ABAM

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