PAARI’s nationwide movement started right here in Essex County, Massachusetts. The statistics are still grim, and we all can get overwhelmed sometimes. But working together with partners like RIZE Massachusetts, the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation, and many, many more amazing individuals and agencies, there is HOPE. We hope you’ll join the fight.
“No one industry or agency can solve this problem by itself,” said Allie Hunter, executive director of the Gloucester-based Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). “It really is about collaborating, sharing resources and sharing ideas.”Founded in 2015 alongside the nationally recognized Gloucester Police Department’s Angel Initiative, PAARI is a nonprofit community policing movement to create non-arrest pathways to drug treatment. In its first five years, membership in PAARI – open to any law enforcement agency nationwide – has grown to nearly 500 departments. The group works with 130 law enforcement agencies across Massachusetts and 20 in Essex County alone. Members have access to program models, technical assistance, seed grants and a robust learning community made up of organizations with a shared goal: ending opioid addiction.“We’ve grown so quickly because people see the need for this,” said Hunter. “This is an issue we need to approach differently.”
And PAARI’s approach is getting results. Recovery coaches embedded in local police departments are helping people gain access to the treatment resources they need. In Lynn and Lawrence, 181 and 163 individuals respectively were supported in 2018. In Gloucester, PAARI has worked with Department of Public Health to make narcan – a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses – available in public buildings and to the fishing community. And nationwide since 2015, more than 24,000 people have entered treatment through PAARI’s partner police departments. Together, they are changing the national dialogue about law enforcement’s role in tackling the opioid epidemic. And it started right here in Essex County. (For more information on the work of PAARI, visit paariusa.org.)