Chief calls first addiction outreach a success

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More than 20 people attended the first meeting of Arlington Community Training and Support (Arlington ACTS) for opiate addicts and their families, and Chief Frederick Ryan describes it as successful.

The meeting with police and support personnel was held Aug. 4 near Highrock Church. Officials distributed seven nasal Narcan kits after providing training and demonstrations. 

Arlington ACTS will convene the first and third Tuesday of the month. The next meeting is set for Aug. 18.

Arlington ACTS is a key part of the Arlington Outreach Initiative, the department's new appraoch to drug addiction in town. Click here to download the program materials.

"We are changing the way we respond to drug addiction in the community to focus on helping those suffering with the disease," Ryan said in a news release issued Thurday, Aug. 6. "To do so, we know that providing information and education on the matter is one of the first steps of getting people and their families the help they need."

As part of the initiative, the police department will host a series of town-based meetings, co-facilitated by the police department’s clinician Rebecca Wolfe and Mike Duggan, a community substance abuse intervention expert. Addicts and their families are given access to:

• Outpatient levels of care

• Inpatient/medical detoxification programs

• Resources for family support

• Mental health professionals

• A certified substance abuse interventionist.

• On-site training on the proper use of nasal Naloxone.

• Dispensing of nasal Naloxone to addicts and their friends and family

• Veterans services personnel.

Wolfe kicked off the first meeting, explaining that the goal of this Initiative is to educate families, help provide and teach the administration of potentially lifesaving nasal Narcan and to notify addicts and their families, friends and caregivers of treatment options and resources available to them.

"We were so excited to see residents willing to come out and learn more about addiction, either for themselves, a family member or a loved one," Wolfe said. "The more people we can educate, the more lives we may be able to save."

Police also partnered with Wicked Sober  and the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) to offer information and advice at no cost and to assist people in locating treatment centers for recovery, using both organizations' large networks of qualified treatment centers across the country.

At the meeting, co-leader Mike Duggan, certified interventionist and founder of Wicked Sober, told his story of addiction and recovery. He spoke of the various levels of care available and offered his services guiding addicts and their families through the complicated and frustrating path to treatment and recovery.

The meeting's main presenter, Erin Cheek from the AIDS Action Committee's Needle Exchange and Overdose Prevention Program in Cambridge, presented on opiate overdose and instructed the group on how to assist a person who has overdosed on opiates. Cheek met individually with people to ensure they could assemble the Narcan kit before giving attendees a package of two doses to bring home.

Guests were also given the opportunity to ask questions as the meeting wrapped up.

All pertinent data from Arlington ACTS and the Initiative's partnerships will be collected, including:

• Raw numbers of persons served by the program (without identifying the person)

• Number of people trained in the delivery of Naloxone.

• Number of doses of Naloxone dispensed.

• Number of people who enroll in outpatient programming.

• Number of people admitted to inpatient programs.

• Number of referrals to veterans services.

Data tracking began July 1 and a comparative analysis will be made to historical data related to heroin overdoses in the community (fatal and nonfatal).

The Arlington Outreach Initiative is inspired by the Gloucester Police Department ANGEL Initiative, created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello. Gloucester's 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 and then fast-tracks the participant into a treatment center.

The map of Arlington depicts the number of heroin overdoses in town.

Aug. 4, 2015: Police release action plan on addiction

July 10, 2015: Town police begin reaching out to addicts

This annoucement was published Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015.

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