Drug addiction doesn’t just affect addicts and their families – it can affect the towns and cities they live in, as increased crime rates are often the result of an increased population of addicts. In recent years, Maine has seen a dramatic increase in heroin and opiate abuse and in order to address the growing epidemic, Scarborough Police Department has launched the innovative Operation HOPE.
What is Operation HOPE?
Operation HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention Effort) is a demand reduction and addiction outreach program that has been in effect since October 2015. This program, which has been modeled after the unprecedented Gloucester “Angel” program, is supported by the Portland Recovery Community Center, which is a non-profit organization that acts as a safe haven and support service provider for those in recovery. The Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) has also given support to help addicts who volunteer for treatment instead of sending them to a county jail cell for possessing drugs.
Key elements of the program include:
- Special law enforcement training – where officers learn how to effectively interact with those suffering from addiction
- Public education and outreach
- Drug turn-in – where an addict who enters the Scarborough Police Department can voluntarily turn in opiates, heroin, needles or any other drug paraphernalia in return for treatment assistance without the fear of any arrests or charges.
Addiction is not a Criminal Issue, It’s a Health Issue
Drug addiction touches across many socioeconomic lines and heroin and opiate abuse has reached near-epidemic proportions in Maine. Heroin related deaths in Maine have increased by 714% between 2011 and 2014 while overdose deaths involving fentanyl are up 378% for the same period.
Not only has there been a significant increase in heroin and opiate abuse, but the closure rate of notable in-state treatment and rehabilitation facilities has also risen. Combined with a marked decrease in funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment, the challenge of resource shortage for those fighting opiate addiction becomes clear. Many Mainers lack the adequate financial means to access proper treatment. But despite these challenges, Operation HOPE and Beachway Therapy Center aim to bring increased resources to help fight the disease of addiction.
How Operation HOPE Works
When an addict enters the Scarborough Police Department and voluntarily turns in opiates, heroin, needles or any other drug paraphernalia, they will be walked through the system of detox and recovery, not thrown into a jail cell. The addict doesn’t have to worry about any drug-related arrests or charges and instead, can focus on the road to recovery.
With program partners like PAARI and Portland Recovery Community Center, the program’s success rests on its volunteers (also known as “Angels”) to help coordinate treatment for addicts seeking help. The volunteers are a critical component to the program, as they are responsible for guiding addicts through the process of detox and starting recovery, which includes accelerated placement in PAARI and Operation HOPE-affiliated rehabilitation centers, like Beachway Therapy Center, whenever possible.
And because of PAARI’s (Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative) assistance, access to treatment programs outside of Maine have opened up, giving addicts the opportunity to experience the holistic, individualized addiction treatment that Beachway Therapy offers.
Helping Change Maine’s Response to Public Health Crisis
The Scarborough Police Department is intent on being part of the solution when it comes to responding to the near-epidemic crisis of heroin and opiate addiction. Through public education and facility outreach, the department has been one of the first communities in Maine to sign on with the program. They are dedicated to fostering a public dialogue and discussion, seeking to bring increased resources to help fight the disease of addiction, working in partnership with others to find long term solutions, working to give a face to recovery and, most importantly, helping save lives.
Improve Quality of Life for Everyone in the City
Just as addiction is capable of affecting everyone within city limits, so can the positive results and benefits of Operation HOPE – by working to reduce the amount of addicts suffering on the street, the quality of life can improve for everyone in the city.
When someone walks through the police department doors, the natural reaction is to get them the help they need. With a growing partnership between law enforcement and the recovery community – because without the valuable scholarships donated from the treatment providers there would be no hope – addicts can find comfort in knowing they too will get the help they need and have a chance at getting proper addiction treatment.
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction to heroin or opiates, contact the trained counselors at Beachway Therapy by calling 877-284-0353. You can also visit this page and fill out our form to be immediately contacted by one of our staff.