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Drugs & Health Blog

Addicted Lives Matter to Gloucester Police

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

Update on “Addiction itself is not a crime, it’s a disease.”

This post makes us think of the new Rachel Platten song lyric: “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”

Sometimes it just takes one person. One police department. One really good success story to open people’s eyes to the possibility of change. In May, we blogged about a Massachusetts police department’s revolutionary new approach to helping with people suffering from addiction. On June 1, the Gloucester, MA, police launched this program that focuses on helping people recover and not putting them in jail.

Many states have drug courts that monitor the treatment progress of people with addiction while keeping them out of jail. Gloucester’s ANGEL Initiative goes further by actively assisting those people with getting into treatment—even driving them to the place they get treatment—and helping them navigate the detox/recovery system. Gloucester has also made available a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose for people seeking treatment for their addiction.

We’re excited to report that their ANGEL Initiative has already seen a lot of success.

In its first five weeks, the ANGEL Initiative (named for its volunteer mentors, or “ANGELs,” who support people seeking treatment when the police station transports them to the health care facility) took in and placed in treatment 35 people with the disease of addiction.

A Community Responds

Joining the police are local, state, and national organizations that have gotten on board with the initiative. National leaders in business, health care, the public sector, and education have joined the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.)—a new nonprofit organization created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and businessman John Rosenthal—in response to the ANGEL program.

Part of P.A.A.R.I.’s mission is to continue the important work of ANGEL: It encourages opioid drug users to seek recovery, and connects those who are addicted with treatment programs. P.A.A.R.I. is also aiding other police departments in implementing programs like ANGEL. Boston’s mayor has even announced that the city may model a program of its own after the Gloucester initiative.

A State of Change

There is more good news for Massachusetts. The governor, Charlie Baker, announced recommendations that Massachusetts will put in place to prevent and treat opioid addiction. It will also increase access to recovery programs for those who need them. Their goal is to reduce opioid-related deaths in the state, which increased by one-third from 2012 to 2014, to an estimated 1,008 last year.

With this much success in just the first five weeks, we're eager to see how many more lives are saved in Massachusetts and other states making the shift from punishing to supporting those with addiction.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Wish other towns will do what this town is doing.
substace abuse is a brain disease that needs treatment. we need to educate the family and the community to know how to handle the person who abuses subsatnce. Family and other support group can help them become sober.
Drugs are Bad
So badddd.I said I can quit anytime I want to I don't need it.. Well that was just a lie. I said, problem? I don't have one. I do drugs for one reason to get high.. Also a lie.. I come to realize after my boyfriend and I split that I had major problems.. I could no longer have access to an unlimited amount and also I found I couldn't afford it.. Also found out I couldn't function without it.. Also took a look at the the person staring back at me in the mirror and she doesn't even look familiar.. No wonder he left.. Wtf? How did I screw myself up in such a way.. I need help. S.o.s.
All I am certain of is that I am an addict. And I am killing myself a little everyday. What started out recreational has become my everyday thing for over 2 years and I desperately need help. I do not know what to do. I don't know where to go. I don't know who to call. I've been in denial until about 2 weeks ago. I tried unsuccessfully to detox at home. I didn't do anything for 5 days.. But that ended Friday evening. Now I lay here not feeling well at all.. Unable to work as it goes very often this days.. I don't want to live like this.. I am 44 years old and I am strung slap out on methamphetamine.. I'm scared.. Help anyone?

Hi Joy, people often need professional help and support to overcome addiction. The SAMHSA tool linked on this page can help you find a drug treatment program in your area: You can also call 1-800-662-HELP to find a program.

im also an addict myself i binge on things alot ive also been in rehab it is a hard thing to break as ive not worked for ten years so boredom setts in then u just wanna get wasted an the only way u stop is when u r broke its a catch twenty two situation
Wtf? How did I screw myself up in such a way.. I need help. S.o.s.

Hi jack, you can get information about drug abuse treatment programs at If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

We also have some more information about addiction and drug abuse treatment at this link:

such a crazy story. I really enjoyed reading it.
I appreciate the efforts made by the them. Treating addiction as crime is definitely a bad option instead considering it is a disease and taking measures can only help to get rid of it. I was addicted to drugs 3 years before and the way some approached me was terrible as if I have committed a crime. The addiction treatment British Columbia Professionals at Edgewood helped me come out of the situation.
good article