Community Connections Fighting Addiction in New York
Author: Justin Mckibben
Much like other progressive programs that are starting to take life in various states across the country, New York now has one community taking proactive steps toward helping empower the people in their area suffering from addiction. Gowanda, New York now has the Gowanda Area Community Connections, an innovative effort to get addicts the help they need.
Police and P.A.A.R.I.
In order to launch the Community Connections program the Gowanda Police Department has partnered with The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) to launch this next-level addiction outreach and recovery program. Gowanda Police Chief Stephen Raiport has no delusions about the state of the opioid epidemic in his area, and is well aware of the dangers of heroin and prescription painkiller addiction which has resulted to an increasing number of fatal overdoses in Western New York.
In a recent interview Raiport told reporters,
“In 2014 we’d never heard of it. But just last year alone we had ten incidents where we had to use Narcan, plus we had two deaths last year due to heroin.”
While those numbers may not seem too extreme compared to the roaring overdose rates all over America, Raiport went on to point out that in a village of only 2,500 residents when such heartbreaking incidences happen it is likely many of the inhabitants know the person, even if they did not know of their addiction. Many people might know of the victims struggle with addiction, but may not have known how to help them.
Therefore, in such a small population these numbers are profoundly devastating. And like an exclamation point on that statement, the morning the story was set to publish officers were dispatched to another suspected overdose, and this time the victim died. Raiport went on to say,
“The more I got involved in this, I couldn’t get over how many people I spoke to from the community who has a family member that I know who used opiates, heroin, or is addicted to pills. It’s been eye opening,”
“Our officers would come in contact with these individuals and a lot of times they would say ‘I want to clean myself up, I need help’…before we started this initiative our officers and myself didn’t have the answer, we didn’t know where to turn them to,”
Gowanda’s Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative involves an active partnership with several clinical agencies which offer drug re-hab for individuals and their families.
How Community Connections Works
When outlining the game plan Raiport was happy to note that the department’s efforts are now geared toward pointing the people dealing with addiction in the right direction while making referrals to the clinicians. These clinicians make their assessments and work to place the individual struggling with addiction into either an outpatient program or an inpatient 30 day program.
Since December, five people have already been placed through the Community Connections program. Raiport was optimistic in stating that so far the individuals they have helped with the Community Connections program have managed to stay clean and work towards recovery, but he also acknowledges the need for more work to be done if any real progress is to be made.
At this point the Community Connections program hasn’t gotten too radical; Police will still continue to arrest drug suppliers. However, when it comes to those who are battling addiction, law enforcement officials have grasped the idea that they cannot “arrest their way out of addiction.”
While not everyone out there is going to have programs like Community Connections out there to help them get into addiction treatment, there are always resources out there to find a way to get the help you need. Hopefully more connections in more communities will be made to inspire a change that could save more lives.
When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, there are ways to find the most effective options for treating addiction. Holistic healing facilities take pride in being innovative and impactful toward developing lasting recovery.
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