Beginning in June of this year, Police Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester Police Department created the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) program to help those in the community who were addicted to opioid painkillers and heroin.

What exactly does PAARI do?

PAARI’s main focus is to offer addicts the option to approach the department as yet another door to receive treatment. Many would typically be wary of this but Campanello made it a point that by approaching the department you will not be criminally charged. The idea is to show that law enforcement realizes that addiction is a disease, and it cannot be cured in a cell, but rather through a continuum of care through treatment.

Meanwhile the program strives to help do away with the stigma of addiction and any barriers faced along the way. Law enforcement first helps by finding someplace where the addict can fully detox as their first step towards recovery. All of this is completed through the help of not just law enforcement but volunteers and clinicians as well. So far, the department has assisted approximately 360 people in receiving treatment as opposed to being incarcerated.

And who pays for all of this assistance?

Currently, the treatment services provided as a result of contacting the police department payments are completed through either public and private insurance of the individual, grants from service providers, and the money that has been seized from drug dealers. However, now beginning on January 4 of the new year insurers will begin to work hand-in-hand with the Gloucester Police Department. Getting the insurers involved will make it easier for addicts to outline their recovery strategy, seeing what options are available to them and within their budget. As of right now a total of 17 insurances cover over 2.6 million Massachusetts residents. Clinical support will also be provided around the clock to ensure that those requesting help will get that information of services provided and covered through their insurance.

What benefits can we expect to see from this?

The establishment of this new combined program with the insurance companies is not only beneficial for the addicts, but for the treatment process of addiction as well. By going through the police department they are then connected to the insurance company. Typically the insurance portion does not come into play until later on in treatment; however, now with this new process insurance is involved from the beginning. Therefore, treatment of each addict can be tracked to see how successful the different programs are and to ensure that they are constantly receiving support, especially after detox. More than following the success rate of different programs, they also get to measure the success rate of the addicts themselves through PAARI as compared to other entry methods.

Overall, Chief Campanello hopes to show that everyone can join together in better correcting not only the justice systems methods but everyone who comes into contact with addicts, including insurance companies, physicians, and others. As stated in Washington’s Top News, Campanello says that this is just the next logical step in the War On Drugs. The biggest concern of some like Chris Faris, CEO of Spectrum Health Systems, is that the community services will become overwhelmed if this sort of program expands further to other towns. But that may be a price that is worth it if it means addicts are finally getting the treatment and awareness they need.