Vernon Police Work to Help Drug Addicts - NBC Connecticut

Vernon Police Work to Help Drug Addicts

A new initiative looks to provide hope to people suffering from addiction by creating environments where they can establish a medical treatment plan and benefit from support resources.

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    Vernon Police Work to Help Drug Addicts

    Vernon police are working with the Eastern Connecticut Health Network and other agencies to provide treatment and support for drug addicts, rather than putting them in jail.

    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019)

    The rise of opioid-related deaths is leading to a new partnership in Vernon.

    Medical officials and emergency agencies are working to increase access to care for those struggling with drug addiction.

    Eastern Connecticut’s Health Network’s Rockville General Hospital and the Vernon Police Department have come together, with additional community groups, to find a way to offer treatment, instead of arrests, when appropriate.

    The initiative looks to provide hope to people suffering from addiction by creating environments where they can establish a medical treatment plan and benefit from support resources.

    Vernon Police will continue to partner with the Vernon ROCKS coalition and North Central District Health Department to combat opiate addiction across the area.

    Vernon Police Lt. William Meier says it’s a community effort.

    “We’re doing everything we can through partnering in the community,” Meier said. “This is a way that we can contribute and push people towards treatment as opposed to prison.”

    Rockville General Hospital is partnering with Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery (CCAR) Recovery Coaches to the Emergency Department, effective August 1, 2019.

    Recovery coaches are currently available to patients seen in Manchester Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).

    This expansion of services to include patients seen in Rockville General Hospital’s Emergency Department is made possible by grant funding to CCAR by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

    Dr. Robert Carroll works for the ECHN’s emergency medicine department.

    “Sending people to prison for these things doesn’t make them any better in fact it probably hardens them,” said Carroll. “We are looking to provide another avenue for people coming in for treatment.”

    One way to help combat against ongoing addiction is with recovery coaches.

    “Those recovery coaches are people that are in long-time recovery themselves,” said Carroll.

    Phil Valentine is the executive director for the CCAR and recovering addict.

    “It’s the grace of God that I haven’t had a drink or drug since December 28, 1987,” said Valentine.

    Valentine says having a support system and someone that’s been through the recovery process can make all the difference.

    “Their primary purpose is not to necessarily to connect people to care, or make sure they get in recovery,” said Valentine. “The recovery coaches have one primary focus that is to plant the seed of hope.”

    The ED Recovery Coach program provides needed support and guidance to people experiencing many forms of addiction.

    Recovery coaches work with the individual, providing support during and after the ED visit and connecting them to community resources including substance use treatment.

    ECHN is grateful to the DMHAS for funding this vital and needed program and to the dedicated employees of CCAR that provide this service.

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