Anne Arundel County, MD, is feeling the weight of opiate addiction, with unsettling numbers already emerging for 2017. A minimum of 354 overdose incidents have been reported since January, and 35 opiate-related deaths. However, county officials are recognizing (as many others have) that incarceration is largely ineffective at rehabilitating addicts. The fact is, most jail facilities don’t have the resources necessary to provide an addict with what they need to change their behavior and leave their old life behind upon release. Things like counseling, 12 step meetings, providing of sober housing resources, and providing of a solid recovery plan are just not in the budget in the jail system, but are integral to giving addicts an actual chance at recovery. In further attempts to help struggling addicts, Anne Arundel County is taking a new approach to giving addicts a safe place to ask for help.
Safe Stations for Addicts
In recent years, police stations have openly passed policies that would allow addicts to come and ask for help without legal consequences. But it is possible that addicts may feel uneasy walking into a police station, particularly if they have drugs to get rid of or criminal records. County leaders have instituted a new policy as of April 20th, where fire stations are now designated as “safe stations,” as the front line for the fight against addiction. Drug users or addicts can now go to any Anne Arundel County or Annapolis City fire station and ask for help, 24 hours a day. The EMTs or firefighters on staff will administer any needed medical assistance, including treatment for overdoses if necessary, and will call a counselor from the Anne Arundel County crisis response team to come on site and do what they can to get the person into treatment. The counselors reportedly are able to help with the entire process, from insurance/payment issues, to notifying employers or probation officers of their impending absence.
Importantly, police are not involved in this process, which may make the addict feel more safe. (Although they will be called to dispose of any unwanted drugs that the person may have on hand). This immediate providing of help for addicts when they ask for it is crucial, as the longer it takes for them to get into treatment, the higher the chances are that the person will change their mind. That is one of the many powerful and dangerous qualities of addiction- the mind of an addict will very quickly convince them that “they are not that bad,” or come up with a million excuses to avoid change. The window where an addict is willing to get help is generally a small one, so this program holds a lot of potential value for sick and struggling addicts in the Annapolis area. Apparently four users have already sought and found help at these safe stations since the program began, and as word spreads, hopefully more addicts will take advantage of this resource and begin their new life of sobriety and hope.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.