The Scarborough Police Department’s Operation HOPE (the Heroin – Opiate Prevention Effort) has placed its 200th participant into a drug treatment and rehabilitation program. A York County woman in her 20s requested assistance in obtaining treatment for heroin use. She will receive drug treatment and rehabilitation services courtesy of an Operation HOPE-cooperating treatment facility in Florida.
Through Operation HOPE, any person who enters the Scarborough Police Department and requests help for substance use disorder is screened to determine eligibility to participate in a treatment program. If they are found to meet program eligibility requirements, they are paired with an Operation HOPE volunteer “Angel”. The “Angel” walks them through the process toward detoxification and recovery - - to include accelerated placement in a rehabilitation and treatment program whenever possible.
Since its launch on October 1st, 390 people have come to the Scarborough Police Department to inquire about receiving drug treatment and recovery services. They include 225 men and 165 women.
Operation HOPE has assisted residents from 86 Maine towns and cities from Fort Fairfield in the north to Kittery in the south. Participants represent 14 of Maine’s 16 counties.
Two-thirds of program participants lacked the health care coverage or financial resources which would have allowed them to obtain treatment on their own. Many of them are receiving free treatment and rehabilitation services courtesy of one of Operation HOPE’s nationwide network of cooperating treatment facilities.
According to Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton, Operation HOPE has demonstrated that people suffering from substance use disorder are willing to ask for help and do get better. “Recovery is possible”, said Moulton. “We have seen time and time again that people who find the courage to ask for help can go on to live healthy, productive lives”. Moulton said escaping the grasp of heroin and opioid addiction has a ripple effect. “Not only can the individual get better, but their families and our communities also benefit from recovery”.
While Operation HOPE has helped many Mainers pursue treatment and recovery, still more needs to be done according to Officer John Gill, Operation HOPE Coordinator. “There is still a significant stigma associated with substance use disorder”, said Gill. “People need to understand that this is a disease and at some point, ‘personal choice’ does not play a role in addiction”. According to Gill, thousands of Mainers want to stop using drugs but don’t have access to needed treatment programs and services. “We need to do a better job in creating pathways to recovery for people who are ready for help”, he added.
Operation HOPE Placement Coordinator Jaime Higgins noted that Operation HOPE’s success is largely due to the dozens of Operation HOPE “Angel” volunteers and the cooperating treatment and recovery centers across the nation. “These facilities have stepped up to help hundreds of Maine people”, said Higgins. “They have donated treatment services valued at around $2.5 million. For that we are extremely grateful”.
Steve Cotreau, manager of the Portland Recovery Community Center and a key member of the Operation HOPE team, pointed to an unexpected benefit of the Operation HOPE program. “Not only are we helping people access treatment and pursue recovery”, said Cotreau, “but we have seen positive relationships develop between police and the recovery community. This relationship is one which did not exist just a year ago and has resulted in increased levels of trust and compassion”.
Scarborough Police Department Operation HOPE is being pursued in partnership with the Portland Recovery Community Center (www.portlandrecovery.org) and the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (www.paariusa.org).
The Scarborough Police Department and Operation HOPE has assisted other police agencies in creating at least three similar programs in Maine and others elsewhere across the nation.
Operation HOPE is one component of the Scarborough Police Department’s three-prong strategy to address the drug problem by focusing on enforcement, education and treatment.
Operation HOPE operates based on public donations, drug asset forfeiture funding and is supported in part by a grant from the Maine Department of Public Safety made possible by the bipartisan efforts of the 127th Legislature and Governor Paul LePage.
For further information, see www.OperationHopeMaine.org.
MEDIA NOTE: For further information on the Scarborough Police Department’s Operation HOPE, contact Officer John Gill at 207-883-6361 or email@example.com.