Leonard Campanello, Co-Founder
John Rosenthal, Co-founder & Chairman
One Bridge St., Suite #300
Newton, MA 02458
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Statement of PAARI Founders Supporting the President’s Remarks Today in West Virginia
Law Enforcement Can Have a Productive Role in Recovery
Large Proportion of New Heroin Addicts Begin with Legitimately Prescribed Pills
GLOUCESTER — Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal, co-founders of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) are very encouraged with the remarks of President Barack Obama, who spoke in West Virginia this afternoon calling for improved training and resources to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic.
“It is very refreshing to hear a sitting president talk candidly and openly about drug addiction and the need for a new approach,” John Rosenthal said. “There is a direct connection between the extreme over-marketing of opioids by the pharmaceutical industry, the over-prescribing, and the rise in heroin addiction, overdose, and death.”
In his remarks, the President called for:
- Improved training for federal healthcare providers that prescribe opioids
- Improved training for doctors nationwide on addiction
- Increasing availability of naloxone
- Improving access to addiction recovery services and treatment
A White House fact sheet on the President’s remarks may be found here.
Of note, the White House said: “More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. Opioids are a class of prescription pain medications that includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs, and four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications.”
“This is what law enforcement has been saying all along,” Chief Campanello said. “We started the ANGEL Initiative for one simple reason: people are dying on the streets. They are dying after using heroin, after abusing pills, after someone prescribed those pills to them, after an aggressive marketing effort by drug companies to put pills in people’s hands.”
“I salute the President for bringing opioid addiction to the forefront of the federal discussion,” Rosenthal said. “No family and no community is immune to the crisis. This discussion is happening in every home in every city and town in America today, and today the President made it clear that he has heard them loud and clear.”
The P.A.A.R.I. founders recognizes, however, that work remains.
“We have begun working with three excellent police partners in Maine — Paris, Augusta, and Scarborough — and they are fighting an uphill battle trying to put people into treatment, with a state government that is intent on stopping them by limiting access to treatment and encouraging police to simply arrest addicts,” Rosenthal said. “Today, the President of the United States stated that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
The founders also are moved by the President urging the elimination of the stigma associated with addiction.
“People suffering from the disease of addiction are not junkies. They are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and friends,” Chief Campanello said. “Before we can address the problem, we must acknowledge that this is a human problem affecting human beings. I am very encouraged to hear the president use similar language today. It is a step in the right direction, and I hope that the actions that follow his statement will be as strong.”
The Gloucester ANGEL Initiative allows people who suffer from addiction to turn over their remaining drug supply and paraphernalia to the Gloucester Police Department without the threat of arrest. Those in need of help are put into treatment programs as opposed to jail cells. The policy went into effect last month in an effort to address a growing opioid addiction epidemic and to reduce the number of overdoses in Massachusetts. Click here to view the official police policy document.
P.A.A.R.I. was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts. Rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction, P.A.A.R.I. committed police departments:
- Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery
- Help distribute life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses
- Connect people suffering with opioid addiction with treatment programs and facilities
- Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic
P.A.A.R.I. was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and opioid addicts seeking recovery. Since its founding, more than 34 police departments in nine states have joined as partners with the initiative.