One town came up with a genius plan for dealing with drug users: Stop arresting them.

This is a huge step in the right direction.

Beginning June 1, 2015, police in Gloucester, Massachusetts, will no longer arrest drug users who approach them seeking help.

Cops being cops.


A Facebook post from the chief of police reads:

"Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery." — Chief Leonard Campanello, Gloucester Police Department

Instead of locking up drug users, the police will assign them personal guides who will help them begin the process of recovery.

This is an incredible development that has the potential to save lives.

Even Ol' Sea Captain Jehoshaphat approves of the change.

Heroin and prescription drug abuse has become a real problem in Massachusetts in the past several years. Over 1,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2014, up significantly from just two years earlier. Four people have died in the first five months of 2015 in Gloucester alone.

Who knows how many of those cases would have turned out differently if users had been able to ask for help without fearing arrest?

Come to think of it, who came up with the idea of throwing people in jail for using drugs in the first place?

Putting big piles of heroin next to a ruler: only slightly less confounding than arresting drug addicts.

The notion that prison is rehabilitative for addicts is, at best, extremely ... not so true. As few as 11% of inmates suffering from addiction get treatment in jail, and over 50% start using again after their release. Nonviolent drug abusers typically pose no threat to anyone other than themselves. And yet, in 2012, drug abuse was the single highest arrest category nationwide, according to an FBI report. Pretty ridiculous!

While Gloucester's new policy is a huge step in the right direction, more still needs to happen.

We need to rethink the way we handle drug addiction nationwide. It's easy to lock someone up, throw away the key, and forget about them forever. It's harder to try and understand the complicated forces that underlie their addiction and try to get them the help they need.

As Chief Campanello bluntly puts it:

"The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life."

If enough communities follow his lead, hopefully there will be far less lost.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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