Results of Gloucester ANGEL Initiative Studied in New England Journal of Medicine Article

Police-led Placement Greatly Outpaces Other Methods of Addiction Treatment and Placement

GLOUCESTER — John Rosenthal, Chairman of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.), and Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade are pleased to announce that the New England Journal of Medicine has published a study of the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative, which highlights major successes of the program in helping those with substance use disorders access treatment for their addiction.
“Our efforts have been legitimized by the New England Journal of Medicine,” Hunter McDade said. “This article gives hope and encouragement to law enforcement professionals across the country who are committed to or are considering an addiction recovery program for their communities.”
In the correspondence “A Police-Led Addiction Treatment Referral Program for Massachusetts,” co-authors Dr. Davida Schiff, MD, of Boston Medical Center, David Rosenbloom, professor at Boston University School of Public Health, and Mari-Lynn Drainoni, associate professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University, described participants’ experience during the first year of the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative.
The study thoroughly reviewed the first year of the program and appears in the latest issue of the Journal today. The study concluded that the Gloucester Police Department was far more successful in placing people into detox and addiction recovery programs than hospital-based programs with similar goals. The authors report that nearly all of the 376 individuals who asked for help at the Gloucester Police Department between June 2015 and May 2016 were offered placement into a detox or treatment program. Only a handful (four percent) of participants changed their minds and did not go into the treatment they were placed in. Ten percent of the participants returned at least one more time to Gloucester Police Department to ask for additional help.
“Gloucester developed a model to meet people where they are and to provide treatment on demand, 24 hours a day, when individuals present motivated to seek care. Gloucester created a successful entry point to help access to our complicated, hard-to-navigate treatment system,” Dr. Schiff said. “Our hospital systems can and must do more to provide non-stigmatizing screening and referral services for individuals with opioid use disorder.”
The authors successfully reached the majority of first year program participants and asked them a series of question and to describe their experience in the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative. The results also highlight the human compassion component that has been the hallmark of the program since its inception. The ANGEL Initiative requires that all persons coming into the police station to seek help be treated with respect and dignity.
“The astounding fact is that people came to the police station for help, and they got it,” Rosenbloom said. “In our follow-up calls, participants told us that the police station was the first place they had ever sought help without being judged and stigmatized.”
The report also echoes the concerns long raised by the Gloucester Police Department, P.A.A.R.I., and its partners nationwide that there is too much subjectivity and discretion among individual treatment providers and no clear path to recovery for individuals in need. P.A.A.R.I. partners have stepped up to fill the unmet need.
“Gloucester police officers did not send anyone back into the streets,” Rosenbloom said. “I think these findings are a challenge to the addiction treatment system and hospitals to be more effective in helping people get into care at the moment they are ready.”
The Gloucester ANGEL Initiative began in June 2015, encouraging people with opioid addiction to come to the Gloucester police department and ask for help, with no threat of arrest. Officers then work to place participants into treatment programs immediately.
“Recovery begins in the community. Police officers do not get to pick and choose who they help, and that puts us in a position to make a major impact on the heroin and opioid epidemic,” said Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan, who chairs P.A.A.R.I.’s Police Council. “I am very encouraged by the results in the New England Journal of Medicine, which clearly indicate that our efforts are making a tangible difference in people’s lives.”
The Gloucester model has been adopted by nearly 160 police departments in 28 states. P.A.A.R.I. was created to support the ANGEL Initiative and its expansion nationwide. More than 200 treatment centers have joined P.A.A.R.I. to offer assistance to participants.
“There’s only one New England Journal of Medicine. This is the most prestigious validation of our innovative police-based initiatives that we could ever hope for,” Rosenthal said. “Now it’s time for the healthcare system to step up and provide long-term treatment for opioid addiction, like it does for every other chronic disease.”
David Rosenbloom is also a member of the P.A.A.R.I. Board of Directors.
About the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.):

P.A.A.R.I. police departments share a common mission: encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery, help distribute lifesaving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses, connect those struggling with the disease of addiction with treatment programs and facilities and provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid epidemic.
P.A.A.R.I. is an independent nonprofit organization that supports law enforcement agencies in setting up, communicating and running their own addiction and recovery programs. The police departments, sheriffs offices, and prosecutors who have partnered with P.A.A.R.I. interact directly with members of the public and those seeking treatment, recovery, and resources. Learn more at

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