The issue of drugs is incredibly complex and sadly widespread across this nation. We must take note of other communities that have effectively employed a proactive and carefully calculated strategy in targeting this issue, and, in doing so, have made a tangible difference in the lives of its citizens. The Angel Program from Gloucester is a fantastic example of this, and I plan on implementing a strategy that is based off its core tenets.
People hit rock bottom at inconvenient times of the day, and night. Who would you want to be there to help you up?In the Massachusetts city of Gloucester they’ve just rolled out a new program. It’s an opportunity for users to get help without the fear of being arrested. Called the Angel Program, it offers people with an opioid-addiction to enter the police department and ask for help.
Users do have to surrender any drugs or paraphernalia they have. They’re then processed into the program, assigned a volunteer who will stay with them, and taken to a medical facility that has signed on as a partner.
It sounds like an amazing program, and it’s something I would love to institute in Duluth. With our growing heroin epidemic, I think it’s time for us to work together:
The police—Here’s our chance to be proactive and serve the community at a whole new level
The medical community—It’s better to help a user to get clean than to try to save someone in the throes of a drug overdose
The legal community—We need legal advocates to help guide us in setting up and administering the program
Our residents—We need to rally together as a community around the people fighting this terrible disease
The Gloucester program has some exceptions, of course. People who seek to enter it cannot have prior outstanding warrants or drug arrests. The officer also must not fear the safety of the volunteer or himself, and users under eighteen must have parental or guardian consent.
And as for the costs, there really aren’t many. If someone turned themselves in when on the verge of an overdose, Narcan would be administered to reverse the process. In the Angel Program, funds seized from drug crimes are used to purchase the Narcan. That seems like poetic justice for the confiscated money.
What is really important is that the person with this terrible disease has taken the first step, and someone who cares will be there to sit with them. This may be their best chance at making a clean break and getting sober.
I believe Duluth can use Gloucester as a guide. I’m inviting anyone in our community to reach out to me, help us implement our own program. We need representatives from the police, medical, and legal communities to join with concerned citizens. This is a chance to really make a difference. And most of all it can help save lives.
And isn’t that what rehabilitation is all about?