Throwing people in jail didn't help, so this chief found a better way to help addicts recover.

Remember the War on Drugs?

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs, citing drug use as public enemy #1 in the United States. Since then, the government has used more law enforcement and harsher laws to wage that war. More than 40 years later...


Mission accomplished? ... Yeah, except not. Photo by Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images.

Well, I guess you could say that the government has lost.

Despite throwing tons of cash into the policies made under this campaign — the Drug Police Alliance estimates over $51 billion a year — the use of drugs is still as prevalent as ever. The rate of drug use remained the same while drug arrests went up. In fact, most arrests in 2013 were due to drug abuse violations.

With this in mind, slowly but surely, the United States has been making a shift away from using prison sentences to respond to people with drug addictions. In fact, Obama just pardoned 46 nonviolent drug offenders.


Why? Because throwing people in jail for using drugs just hasn't worked.

Critics — from non-profit organizations to journalists to criminal justice reform advocates have long condemned the use of the criminal justice system to deal with people with addictions. In fact, support for this tactic is at an all-time low: A 2014 Pew Research Center survey showed that 67% of Americans think we should focus on treatment for people with addictions rather than incarceration.

Still, according to the ACLU, drug-related arrests are the reason why one-fourth of inmates are in jail. Instead of decreased drug use, we've just gotten increased imprisonment rates — with some of our most vulnerable people (such as the poor and people of color) disproportionately paying the price.

But one police chief has come up with something that works way better than an unjust and ineffective war.

Meet Leonard Campanello, the chief of police in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Photo via Gloucester Police Department.

Chief Leonard Campanello started a program to give people who struggle with addiction a judgment-free place to go for help. Anyone who is addicted to opioids can come into the station, surrender their drugs and paraphernalia, and not get arrested. Instead, they are fast-tracked to a rehab center that will help the person — for little or no cost.

The program started in June, and it's already a huge hit.

Its success has inspired more initiatives to provide more resources for people with addiction. Near the end of its first month, the governor of Massachusetts announced a $27 million initiative to create more resources to assist people seeking recovery, including a media campaign to reduce the stigma around addiction that often keeps people from getting the help that they need.

People have been coming from all over the country — including all the way from the West Coast — to participate in Gloucester's program. Upon learning about the program's success, other police departments have become interested in bringing it to their towns. In response, Campanello founded The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative to help them as they set up similar programs in their own towns.

One of the reasons for its success is that each person gets an "angel" when they first come in for help.

The role of the angel is simple yet has a huge effect. They provide unconditional support to the person with addiction and to hold their hand through the process, sometimes literally.

What a difference a supporting hand makes! Photo via Pixabay.

Campanello told The Guardian, “Many of the people we have worked with have said having an angel made the difference."

This program shows how support can be a powerful force in helping people struggling with addiction.

Campanello knows that moving away from treating drug addiction as a crime and toward providing a safe space for people with addictions helps create better communities. And numerous states have succeeded have proven this by creating safer communities while also throwing fewer people in jail.

By treating people with compassion and understanding instead of acting like their addiction is a crime, more people will be able to access the help they need to recover that they might have been too afraid to seek before.

Considering that drug overdoses recently dethroned car accidents as the #1 cause of injury-related deaths in the country, this seems like a good way to help reverse that trend.

Want to learn more? Check out The Guardian's coverage of the program and visit PAARI's website.

via Travis Akers / Twitter

A tweet thread by Travis Akers, a Navy Lieutenant with 17 years of service, is going viral because it shows just how sweet children can be and also points to an overlooked issue facing military families.

In the early morning of April 12, Akers tweeted a photo of himself and his seven-year-old son Tanner who he affectionately calls "Munchie." Akers was moved because his son set his alarm clock so he could get up early enough to hand him a pocket full of Legos before work.

Tanner wanted to be sure his father had something to play with at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. "This was my daily morning trip to base, departing my house at six am for work," Akers told Upworthy.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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