The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (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 addicts with treatment programs and facilities
- Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic
For decades, municipal police officers have been on the front lines of the war on drugs. Until now, they have been solely called upon to attempt to disrupt an ever-increasing supply chain. That meant police officers often found themselves arresting drug addicts as much, if not more so, than drug dealers and traffickers. In most cases, the addicts were only guilty of possessing an illegal, life-ruining substance and they faced arrest, prosecution and prison terms. In the meantime, heroin and opioid addiction has become a severe public health concern in the United States, destroying and often ending lives.
In 2015, Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello developed a revolutionary new way to fight the war on drugs by doing something about the demand, not just the supply. Under his plan, drug addicts who ask the police department for help will be immediately taken to a hospital and placed in a recovery program. No arrest. No jail.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the Gloucester Police addiction initiatives, to aid other police departments to implement similar programs, and to foster a dialogue around the unique opportunity for police departments to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in their communities. Working in conjunction with the medical community and science-based recovery programs, police departments can make a difference in their communities by saving lives from drug overdoses, reducing the number of drug addicts and opioid drug demand, thereby devaluing a seemingly endless drug supply.
We also work to remove the stigma associated with drug addiction, turning the conversation toward the disease of addiction rather than the crime of addiction. We work directly with treatment centers to secure scholarships and fully-funded in-patient programs for addicts while working with police departments, pharmacies, and families to put nasal Narcan into as many hands as possible, recognizing that while it is not a panacea, Narcan can save the life of an overdose patient and give that person another opportunity to get into treatment and fight their disease.