Town Reports 17 People Have Accepted Treatment, Not Jail, for Giving Up Illegal Drugs

Two weeks after the Police Chief of Gloucester, Massachusetts launched a program to provide treatment for people who come to the police station with illegal drugs and paraphernalia, instead of arresting them, 17 people have accepted the offer.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said the 17 people were abusing opioids including heroin, morphine and oxycodone, WBUR reports. He noted that the number, while modest, represents more than three times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses this year in Needham, a town of 29,000.

The program was launched on June 1. While no one asked for treatment on the first day, since then about one or two people a day have been asking for addiction treatment, according to Campanello.

“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.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he is considering adopting a similar policy, calling it a “great idea and a great pilot program.”

Program participants work with a clinician on a treatment plan and facility location, and are accompanied by a volunteer throughout the three-hour process. Many of the volunteers are people who formerly struggled with addiction, the article notes.

The program’s costs are paid for from the city’s drug seizure money. If participants are Massachusetts residents with no insurance, state funding covers the cost of treatment.

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    Lori Neilson

    July 18, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Sounds very hopeful. I know that in the system addicts don’t receive treatment they need so when they are released they go and find drugs again. This program should be in all cities. Addicts need treatment option’s not to be look up like an animal.

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    Dave Finch

    June 28, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    Pardon me. I meant to say a “hopeful eye” on these programs.

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    Dave Finch

    June 28, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    One wonders whether AddictionMyth knows what he is talking about. This Gloucester program sounds like the Beltown, Seattle, WA experiment called LEAD (law enforcement aided diversion) which has seen enough success to gain the attention of drug policy makers in several states. To suggest the idea is flawed because it doesn’t always work is nonsense. It is true to suggest that 12 step is not all that it is cracked up to be, but for many addicts on the street it can be a beginning, and surely better than nothing. One very positive aspect of LEAD is that it gives the addict a hand up, rather than a knock down; a bit of dignity and respect, rather than lock up and stigma. Let’s keep a hopeful idea on these programs.

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    AddictionMyth

    June 19, 2015 at 11:34 AM

    There are several problems with this. First of all, I would like to point out they stopped bringing people to the hospital because they realized that it’s not a very serious condition. Secondly, they never specify what kind of ‘treatment’ they receive. If they are being escorted by 12 Step ‘angels’ then might as well be angels of death because that treatment has a high suicide rate. Finally, if you want to stop doing drugs then flush your stash and go to your local ER. Skip the police station. They’ll put you on the short list for Vivitroll. LOL

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