August 17, 2017
 
PAARI Gets $185K to Boost Opioid Program in Essex County

July 13, 2017 — The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a Gloucester nonprofit that supports police departments in helping opioid drug users recover instead of putting them behind bars, this week announced that it received a $185,000 grant to expand its efforts in Essex County.

Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) said the grant, from the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation, will enable it to extend its program to additional police departments in Essex County; expand staff to assist those agencies; steer participants into recovery; train officers to use Narcan, a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose; and assist law enforcement work with those suffering from addiction.

Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade said, "This project empowers PAARI and all of Essex County to make real changes today in how we fight the opioid epidemic. This grant allows us to increase our staff and provide direct benefits to police departments that are placing themselves at the front lines in the fight against opioid addiction.”

PAARI said added staff will work with law enforcement agencies to prevent opioid overdose deaths, engage more residents in effective treatment and recovery from substance use disorders, and improve hospital, police, and community collaborations.

"Families in Essex County have been hit particularly hard by the opioid and heroin epidemic and we are very proud to partner with the Lutz Foundation and Beverly Hospital to bring more vital resources in the fight against the disease of addiction right here at home," noted John Rosenthal, PAARI's founder. "Like with every other chronic disease without a cure, there are only two options, long term treatment or death."

Opioid overdose deaths reportedly have increased nearly five-fold in Essex County since 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2012 to 2014, an average of 426 people died annually in Essex County due to drug overdoses, with projections for continuing increases indicated in 2015 and 2016. Essex County has a drug overdose mortality rate of 2 deaths per 10,000 residents, which is higher than state and national averages.

“Addiction continues to impact so many families in our community,” said Lutz Foundation President Suzanne Graves. “The problem is nearly out of control, but the creative solutions that P.A.A.R.I. is proposing will allow for improved care and support through this innovative collaboration with Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals.”

Founded in 2015 initially to assist Gloucester police, PAARI is expanding its program to other departments "to implement similar programs, and to foster a dialogue around the unique opportunity for police departments to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in their communities." In its first year, PAARI provided resources and training to 143 police departments and state agencies in 27 states.

According to PAARI, communities that have joined its program have seen crimes associated with addiction drop by as much as 25%, along with an increase in trust of police within their communities.

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