Treatment Instead of Jail is Working!
The world of substance abuse and addiction is often a bleak place. Lying, stealing, broken promises and families, deep resentment, an absolute lack of trust, and general negative behavior…these are the realities that addicts and their loved ones live with on a daily basis.
That could all change thanks to an innovative program forming up in Massachusetts! Lighthouse has previously covered the “Gloucester Approach” to treating addiction.
It sounds great in theory, but what about in practice? Well, the first numbers are in and things are looking good! Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello recently reported that seventeen people have been placed in treatment so far. That’s seventeen people in just under a month, seventeen people who were offered a way out of addiction instead of a jail cell!
And for everyone out there who thinks seventeen is a small number, consider that it’s about three times more than the number of people who’ve overdosed in Gloucester this year.
Yeah, it looks like Campanello’s approach is working pretty well!
The success of Gloucester’s unique approach has garnered widespread acclaim across the country. Recovery advocates, treatment centers, men and women in long-term sobriety, community leaders…even Marty Walsh, the popular mayor of Boston. Mayor Walsh praised Campanello’s program as “a great idea and great pilot program” (Wbur.org).
The Next Step for Gloucester
The initial “angel program” has had some real success so far. After all, placing seventeen people into treatment is the same as saving seventeen lives. Things weren’t always looking this good for Campanello’s program though.
It was launched on June 1st and, for the first day, had no takers at all. Maybe addicts were scared to walk into a police station with drugs. Maybe they didn’t believe they would be offered help instead of handcuffs. Whatever the reason, things were slow to start.
Since June 1st, however, one or two people have been coming in each day. They enter Gloucester PD and are immediately paired with a clinician and an angel. The clinician works to get them into a treatment center, regardless of their financial or insurance situation. The angel is usually someone in recovery who helps the addict through the first few hours of withdrawal and treatment placement.
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Critics of the program have cited the cost as a major issue. Remember, anyone who shows up at the Gloucester police station will receive treatment. It doesn’t matter if they’re able to afford it or not, no one is turned away.
Campanello has gone on record as stating the cost to the city so far has been under $1,000. They’ve covered that with money seized from drug arrests. Still, there’s the cost of treatment itself. How will that be paid for?
Well, that’s where John Rosenthal enters the picture.
Police Assisted Recovery
Although he may not be a household name, John Rosenthal has done some major philanthropic work in the Boston area. The businessman previously founded both the Friends of Boston’s Homeless program and the Stop Handgun Violence organization.
Now, Mr. Rosenthal is turning his eyes towards fighting addiction. Along with Campanello, he started the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, also known as PAARI.
Their goal is to fund and continue Gloucester’s current angel program, as well as expanding it to other areas of the country. In fact, Rosenthal recently said,
“This Gloucester initiative is exciting, it is innovative, and it will save lives — it already has, as far as I’m concerned…And it can literally change national policy with respect to treating opioid addition as an illness and a disease versus crime” (Newbury Port News).
The Gloucester approach has already helped seventeen addicts get into treatment. That was accomplished with little funding in under a month. Imagine the change that could occur in a year. Imagine the change that could occur with proper funding.
The future is looking bright.