• Home

Could New Anti-Heroin Program Work Here?

Alexis Pleus has lived every parent's nightmare. She lost her oldest son Jeff last year to a heroin overdose after he battled a 10-year addiction to the drug.

"One of the times he sought help he waited five days for a detox bed. A heroin addict can't really wait for a detox bed. They just continue to use," said Pleus.

Susan Hughes' daughter is currently in long-term rehab for her heroin addiction.

"There's a very small window where they're willing and want the help and that they're thinking clearly. You have to get them during that window," said Hughes.

Both want to see local police adopt a program the Gloucester Police Department is doing called the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative. Addicts can come to the department without fear of arrest and get immediate placement into treatment.

"People don't want people suffering from the disease of addiction to be charged with a crime and further compound their issues," said Campanello.

Campanello says 116 addicts have taken advantage of the program since it began June 1st. The Gloucester, MA Police Department works with treatment centers as close as 25 miles away to as far as 4,000 miles away. Campanello says Massachusetts spends $7 in incarceration costs for every $1 it spends in treatment costs.

"It's not a big cost to send someone to those centers when those centers are cooperating," said Campanello.

"We're willing to supply the volunteers. We're willing as Chief Campanello said, if we have to go out of the area we'll go out of the area. But what we would like to see is our local medical providers step up and provide the resources we need," said Pleus.

Currently addicts can face weeks-long waits for treatment. So is there the space and money available to adopt such a program here?

"If it's a good model we're open to anything at this point. This is really a crisis locally. Let's find out how it's working, why it's working and then if it is let's move toward it," said Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen.