The HOPE Initiative was launched on February 9th, 2016. It was the first “angel” program in the State of North Carolina. Its purpose is to assist those individuals with Substance Use Disorder to find treatment options and to get into recovery. While other programs were centered around opioids, the HOPE Initiative was willing to accept any Substance Use Disorder. During the planning and implementation phase, partnerships were established with the local district attorney’s office, Eastpointe (LME), UNC Nash Hospital, Coastal Plain Hospital (Detox facility), Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), and many others.
The program allows individuals to come to the Nashville Police Department, turn over any drugs and/or paraphernalia without fear of charges, and to start their recovery process. Our first HOPE Initiative participant came to the Nashville Police Department on February 17th, 2016. The program is funded through donations, grants, and fundraisers.
The Nashville Police Department’s HOPE Initiative has just finished its second year. Our first year saw over 100 participants enter the program which kept us quite busy. In our second year, we had over 200 participants enter the program. As of February 9th – our anniversary date – we have had over 320 HOPE Initiative participants seek help through our program. I am often asked “how successful is the program?” This of course is a difficult question to answer but let me try.
Of the 320 participants who have come through the program – 271 have detox, 155 have been placed into a long-term residential program and 8 of those were individuals who were incarcerated and released from jail to attend treatment programs. As we have tracked as many participants as possible – less than 60 have returned to use. We have had 192 males and 128 females. We have helped 260 participants with opioid use disorders, 21 alcohol use disorders, 9 stimulant use disorders, and 30 other substance use disorders. We have raised almost $65,000 dollars from grants, fundraisers, and generous donations from citizens and business alike. We have a dedicated volunteer base that helps with finding resources, compassionate listening, and transportation issues. We have been recognized by Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein as having a model program that helps anyone in the State and beyond with their disease. We have helped countless families with their struggles of having someone in their family who has this awful disease as well. We do this with compassion and commitment to assist those seeking a path to recovery.
Based on that information alone, I would say we have been extremely successful. But there is an old cliché that I think is appropriate here. “Even if we have helped 1 person it was worth it!” Innumerable lives have been saved, crimes have been deterred, and families have been restored all based on the work of the HOPE Initiative. The struggle is not over – not even close. North Carolina loses almost 4 citizens each day to an overdose. We must continue to do the following to help reduce this number: Reduce the stigma attached to this disease, offer viable options and reduce barriers for those seeking treatment, work on prevention to help reduce the number of young people becoming addicted, and support enforcement of those who are distributing this poison to our communities.