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Boston Police Drug Control Unit offers treatment instead of jail to addicts

Published On: 05-30-2016 in Category: substance abuse


The recent decision by the newly created opioid unit of the Boston Police Department (BPD) to offer various treatment options rather than jailing the drug addicts is being hailed as a novel step to decriminalize drug addiction and provide hope to the victims of substance use disorders (SUD).

As opposed to the standard procedure followed by the BPD to handle heroin overdose cases, the officers are now helping addicts gain access to various curative procedures for de-addiction. Lieutenant Detective Brian J. Larkin, commander of the BPD Drug Control Unit, told bostonglobe.com, “Our mission is twofold. One is enforcement, and the second — just as important — is the recovery aspect. There’s a lot of people who have just struggled for years, and they can’t get out.”

Investigations by the BPD are not limited to the usual probe and gathering of proof to track down the dealer. They have gone a step ahead in recommending the necessary treatment facilities and available rehabilitation programs that give information on interception in cases of overdose and make available drugs and medicines used for reversing the impact of opioid overdoses. The BPD is the latest in line to adopt these measures in an effort to integrate substance addicts into the system after their recovery.

Taking cue from Gloucester police

Prior to this, the Gloucester Police Department (GPD) had broken the norm by embracing the method of providing treatment to those arrested for addiction. GPD chief Leonard Campanello first shared on Facebook the need to reconsider addiction as a disease and not a crime and the need to offer treatment options as an alternative to prison to heroin users.

The decision was criticized by many, claiming he had no authority to carry out the same without prior permission. But the success achieved in addressing the heroin epidemic and the frustration of police officers while arresting addicts led other police departments to adopt the same approach.

New and bold approach

Though the law enforcement agency aims to stall the inflow of drugs into the city, the new approach is expected to arrest the growing number of drug overdose deaths. Analysts from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center at police headquarters are scrutinizing the calls received at emergency helpline number 911 to check for an increase of opioid abuse cases in the state.

Emphasizing on the need to inform people about the various resources available for drug treatment, Boston Mayor Martin Joseph ‘Marty’ Walsh said, “We know that in order to solve the opiates crisis facing our city, and the entire country, we must take new and innovative

approaches and focus more on better coordinated care to connect those who need help with resources.”

Approach expected to be emulated by other states

Opioid epidemic reached a new high in the state in 2014 with an estimated 1,000 succumbing to heroin and opioid overdoses, as per the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The BPD approach, based on the GPD initiative, can be looked as a new way to address the growing problem of drug abuse.

The approach that is expected to be emulated by other state police departments is in line with the results obtained from a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2014 on 1,821 adults which found nearly two-thirds of them had believed in making available therapeutic interventions for drug offenders instead of imprisonment.

Seeking recovery

If you or your loved one is looking for help to get rid of addiction, you may contact the Boston Drug Treatment and Rehab Center for the best available treatment facility in accordance with your needs. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 857-254-1818 or chat online with one of our expert advisors for further information.

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