Law enforcement leaders have recognized that arrest is no longer the solution to addressing the opioid crisis in our nation. Despite statewide and community naloxone distribution efforts, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, has seen a shocking rise in opioid overdose in the past year. In response, the City of Northampton was a awarded a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act grant to develop a county-wide Drug Addiction and Recovery Team (DART) comprised of specially trained police officers, recovery coaches, and harm reduction specialists who collaborate closely with ambulance services and emergency departments to engage people who have recently overdosed, are at risk for overdose, or their family members. DART takes an innovative approach that moves away from an abstinence or treatment-based goal, to one in which harm reduction and relationship development is the core value on which outreach is based.
This presentation will discuss how DART evolved from a pilot program within one police department to a county-wide collaborative effort that is reshaping police, recovery coaching, and emergency response culture to better meet the needs of people who are risk of overdose and their families. Additionally, the electronic data surveillance tool that was specially designed to improve team communication between agencies and track program outcomes will be discussed. A short clip from the documentary film about DART will be shown.