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Miami Police Offer Treatment Instead of Jail Time for Opioid Addicts

With the battle against the opioid epidemic well underway, Miami officials hope to use law enforcement to help addicts find medical care instead of putting them in jail. The Miami PD plans to offer people with an opioid addiction the opportunity to go to rehab instead of simply arresting them. A move we have seen many other state police departments make to try and combat the crisis.

Announced last Monday, the program will use two federal grants totaling about 1.6 million dollars. The police department will be working with Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital, the South Florida Behavioral Network, the University of Miami Health System and many other agencies to develop a pre-arrest diversion program where people who are found with small amounts of painkillers can enter a one year outpatient treatment program, which includes anti-addiction medication such as Vivitrol (and Suboxone, however no information has explicitly stated that), social services, mental health counseling and general medical care.

The hope is to start offering treatment by May 2019. Right now police and hospital officials are spending the next six months hiring personnel, setting up the program and training officers. Dr. Patricia Ares-Romero, chief medical officers of the Behavioral Health Hospital, said this program could end up treating around 100 people over the three-year life of the grant. Much of the treatment will be outpatient, but the program will also have the ability to offer inpatient care if necessary. She also said Miami is already looking for funding to extend the program beyond the three years of the grant due to the magnitude of the opioid epidemic.

Medical professionals applauded the move at Miami City Hall on Monday. Dr. Hansel Tookes, head of a University of Miami needle exchange program said that this is a necessary move to help those suffering from addiction who cannot easily get treatment. It will give those addicted the ability to seek treatment at the point that they encounter law enforcement and instead of using jail time, using medical services.

So how does the Miami program known as CLEAR (Collaborative Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery) work? 

The end goal of course is to save lives. Instead of being arrested, those addicted can sign a binding agreement with the police that they will receive treatment, that the police can help treat their addiction, and follow them throughout the withdrawal process.

What is in the agreement? 

The agreement essentially is the admission that they have an addiction problem and that they essentially don’t have any control over their own body and mind, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing drugs. They also sign saying they are not a dealer and that they are only a user. And then they agree that they want to be clean and free from addiction.

More about the program

The program is for those who have small amounts of opioids on hand. Meaning that it is for someone who has drugs for personal use on them. The program is not for someone who is buying large amounts of drugs and trying to sell them. And while the program can only treat 100 people over three years, there is no criteria to meet other than what was mentioned above (want to get clean). It has been said that once the program reaches capacity, it is at capacity and that is it. As for after completion of the program, there are social services available to those that attend the CLEAR program, and once those individuals get clean, they will be offered other resources such as job placement, shelters if homeless etc. Once the program ends, the hope as mentioned earlier to have a continuation of a program such as CLEAR available to those battling addiction.

 

To read more about the Miami PD and the CLEAR program you can follow some of these links:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article220038830.html

https://www.newsweek.com/miami-police-use-rehab-opioid-addicts-1171920

 

 

 

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