PLYMOUTH POLICE: Initiative seeks to get addicts into treatment immediately after overdoses
A new collaboration partners police with treatment providers to get overdose survivors into immediate treatment. PLYMOUTH – With drug overdose deaths skyrocketing, local police are taking bold steps to safeguard substance abuser victims from themselves.A collaboration that started this week partners police with treatment providers to get overdose survivors into treatment by the next day.As of Tuesday, police will be knocking on the doors of local residents who have been treated for an overdose, within 24 hours of their release from the hospital.A substance abuse counselor or social worker will be with the plain-clothes officers. Together, they will offer the victim the opportunity to go immediately into treatment at an in-patient facility.BID-Plymouth hospital, Gosnold Inc., and High Point will partner with police on the ride-along overdose intervention initiative.The hospital and the two treatments centers will have social workers on call on a rotating basis to cover every day of the week to assist. Brewster Ambulance, whose paramedics are usually on the frontline of the opioid battle, will coordinate the program.Police Chief Michael Botieri said the ride-along collaboration is needed because of the staggering number of opioid-related deaths and the equally alarming amount of people who have suffered multiple overdoses in town.Police have attributed 20 deaths to overdoses already this year, and the coming holidays are typically a dangerous time for people with addiction problems. Last year the town had 15 overdose deaths, and five of those occurred in December.And for every fatal overdose there are approximately 10 times as many instances in which police, firefighters, paramedics and even relatives have succeeded in reviving victims with CPR or Narcan, the anti-opioid medication.The intervention program builds on existing local efforts to educate victims and their families about treatment options after an overdose.Last January, police started giving families pamphlets explaining treatment options whenever they responded to an overdose. Last spring, local police also started petitioning for court-ordered treatment for addicts who have suffered multiple overdoses.Sarah Cloud, the director of social work for BID-Plymouth hospital, said making an immediate connection with overdose victims is crucial.“We need to strike while the iron is hot, when there’s a pause a little and we still have a window,” Cloud said.The collaboration loosely replicates a program Gosnold has been operating in all but three police departments on Cape Cod for the last year.Lori McCarthy, Gosnold’s national director of clinical outreach, said the program has proven highly successful at getting overdose victims into treatment, though often not immediately.McCarthy said overdose victims are willing to let police and social workers into their homes to talk about the program immediately after their overdose. But many need a few days to come to the realization that they need to accept the offer.