Marietta police testing new opioid intervention program
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A police department in metro Atlanta has announced a new opioid addiction intervention program as deaths from overdoses in Cobb County appear to be on the decline.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the new program by Marietta police will create an alert system where authorities are notified when someone is revived using medication, like naloxone, that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
Two plain clothes officers will then visit survivors and try to convince them to seek treatment. Officers will also receive training on how to best approach the sensitive conversations.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said the program arose from the success the department has had in using naloxone to combat overdose deaths. Between police, fire and ambulance services, naloxone was given 100 times in Marietta last year.
Flynn wants to expand on that success by figuring out how to engage with people after overdoses and break the cycle of addiction.
“Do we think we’re going to get some doors slammed in our face by people saying ‘You don’t have a warrant, get lost?’ Yeah,” Flynn said. “But some people will say, ‘I want to hear more.’”
The program will be judged by how many people police can persuade to enter treatment and will be evaluated after six months and again after a year.
The department is calling the program the ASSIST Team.
It’s difficult to measure the overall effect that drugs like naloxone have on overdose death numbers, but Cobb Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Cassie Boggs says preliminary data shows the number of accidental overdoses decreased from about 140 in 2017 to 110 last year. But Boggs cautioned that her team was still evaluating data and that is was too early to draw definitive conclusions.
“If there truly was that much of a dip in the opioid deaths, something is working,” she said. “What it is, I don’t know.”
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com