In Allentown, New Jersey, police officers are taking part in a training program from Law Enforcement Against Drugs, or LEAD, that helps law enforcement to better fight the opiate overdose epidemic that has struck the state. Called ON THE STREET, the program offers actionable evidence-based information that makes it easier to recognize the signs of opiate addiction/overdose and to address it efficiently and effectively.
Nick DeMauro is the executive director and CEO of LEAD. He says: “LEAD ON THE STREET law enforcement training is rooted in current research that is aligned with prevention science. Yes, science is important, but it doesn’t do anyone any good unless we get it into the hands of our officers who interact with the community. And, our program does that. Law enforcement officers are our link to the front line: in our schools, in the classrooms, and ON THE STREET. Our programs help them in their fight against drug abuse, all forms of bullying, and violence.”
First on the Scene, First to Respond
The need for police officers to assess a situation and recognize someone who is under the influence and experiencing psychosis or an overdose as a result cannot be overstated. In these situations, the correct response applied rapidly can be life-changing. The more quickly the right medical intervention can be applied in the event of overdose, the more likely it is that the person’s life can be saved. When an officer recognizes someone who is under the influence and can intervene safely, it decreases the amount of violence on the street.’
More education and training are essential to ensure that people who are in crisis have the help they need from those who are often first on the scene to address the situation.
Family on Standby
It is not just police officers who can benefit from gaining a better understanding of how addiction works, what changes it brings, and how best to help someone who is in in the throes of the disorder to begin to find their way out. Family members who have been there from the beginning and seen firsthand what heavy and continued use of substances can do in terms of altering personality, focus, and behaviors are in the right position to demonstrate to their loved one that immediate change is needed.
Unfortunately, many family members who find that their attempts to discuss the problem casually are rebuffed by their loved one feel they are powerless to do anything but stand by. The fact is, however, that a formal and organized intervention can be a strong move that helps the individual to recognize the dire nature of their situation and also helps the family to begin their own healing process.
A Formal Conversation
Families can help themselves and their loved one in crisis by setting clear standards and expectations and then following through on their promise to support their loved one in making positive choices. Essentially, this is the goal of an intervention – a formal gathering of all who are concerned about the individual in the interest of helping them succeed in recovery.
Though there are different styles and types of interventions and a variety of structures to choose from, in general, the highlights of most addiction interventions include:
- A professional interventionist who assists the family and the individual in communicating positively
- The identification of the addiction disorder as a medical issue that requires medical intervention
- Planned statements by each participant that identify something that has changed due to addiction and the genuine desire for the individual to get better
- An emphasis on the fact that the person is not being “blamed” for the addiction disorder
- A request for the individual to agree to get treatment
- The offer to leave immediately for a drug rehab program that has been prearranged
- A notification of what circumstances and situations that currently support ongoing addiction will change if the individual refuses help
- Someone on standby to physically accompany the individual directly from the intervention to rehab
An intervention can help to create boundaries that are often missing when one family member is living with addiction. Through these boundaries, everyone can begin to reclaim their lives again, and the person living with the disorder will be able to see clearly that the most positive route to change is through recovery.
Are you ready to learn more about how to help your loved one and yourself begin to mend after addiction?