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Friday, September 9, 2016

Opioid Addicts Welcome At Fire Stations

It is ever apparent that we cannot treat the opioid epidemic the same way that the country did with other drug scourges in the past. Law enforcement in the United States cannot simply round up the over 2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder and ship them off to our already overcrowded jails and prisons. More than half of American inmates are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

The research is conclusive; incarceration has little effect on addiction rates. On the other hand, access to effective addiction treatment services is the best weapon against the opioid scourge that has now been plaguing the nation for nearly twenty-years. Addiction is a difficult malady to recover from as an individual, without effective science-based treatment modalities.

Treatment centers are, for the most part, in abundance throughout areas of the country that are highly populated. Prescription opioid and heroin addicts can look for help at municipal resource centers and nonprofit facilities. But, in rural America, where per capita the problem is significant, it is much more difficult to find addiction support. Meaning people will either continue to use, get arrested or overdose. The New England area has been devastated by prescription opioid and heroin abuse, seeing a steady rise in opioid overdose deaths in recent years.

In an effort to provide addicts with support and recovery resources, fire houses in Manchester, New Hampshire, have opened their doors to opioid addicts, The Wall St. Journal reports. Since May of 2016, the “Safe Station” has welcomed 370 people with opioid addiction problems. Of those who have sought assistance, the fire department EMS officer who created the program says that at least 70 percent have gone into treatment.

Upon seeking help from the Safe Station program, individuals are checked for any medical problems that may require hospitalization, according to the article. After which, the opioid addicts are then referred to a nonprofit which can find them either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program to begin the journey of recovery. Safe Station is similar to a program launched by the police chief in Gloucester, MA, where addicts could go to a police station to surrender their drugs and be referred to a treatment facility. While the program in MA has been deemed to be a success, now being modeled across the country, many addicts may fear that they are being duped into getting arrested. Which is why the Manchester program involves firemen rather than police.

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