The front lines to battle drug addiction has gotten more aggressive in Cambridge, with police adding a new technique to connect people to help.
For one recovering heroin addict, who asked not to be identified, there have been ups and downs over the years. He lost custody of his kids at one point. And when he overdosed, it always had the same ending.
"I've overdosed like five or seven times,” said he said.
He would receive narcan, be released from the ER and then go out to look for his next fix.
"Trying to go get high again (laugh) because when you get narcanned, it completely takes your high,” he said.
It was a cycle many get stuck in, and Cambridge police realized that it wasn’t working.
"If you're just handed a piece of paper, with some information and you're leaving it up to the individual to seek out these resources. That's very tough,” said Det Sgt Louis Cherubino.
When the recovering addict overdosed recently, he opened his eyes to a police detective standing there, but the detective was not there to arrest him, but to put their department-wide plan into action.
Cambridge police launched a new plan of attack last year out of its Special Investigations Unit, or SIU, that focuses on intervention and coaching services.
"This is the type of illness that people won't want help initially, but we don't let it stop there,” said Det Sgt Louis Cherubino
The outreach team gets involved when the overdose happens and before the person is released from the ER.
"It was rapid fire, it was within 10 minutes, I had a bed at Plymouth High Point,” the recovering addict told FOX25.
Plymouth High Point is a recovery center. The man is still working on his recovery but said he would still be stuck in the overdosing cycle if a detective in Cambridge hadn’t connected him with rehab help.
“He turned to me and said, ‘I can you get to Plymouth High Point like tomorrow morning because that's when the bed opens up' and he said 'if you can't, I'll take you,'” he said.
Cambridge police responded to 277 overdose calls last year. The SIU was involved with 130 of them and referred more than 50 to a social worker or other services, and 21 accepted treatment.
"A lot of relentless follow-up, calling them, texting them and finding any way to reach out to them and with the help of the detectives continuously going around saying hey do you need help again,” said Sabrina Voegelin, a clinical social worker with the Cambridge Police Department.
The recovering addict is turning his life around by fighting to say no, and now has support from members of the SIU team, who he says were there at exactly the right time.
The police department is already looking to expand the outreach team to include a doctor or nurse to help identify medical issues before they end up having serious health issues.
Cox Media Group