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

A little bit of help from an angel can go a long way.

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.

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular