BOSTON — Executive Director Allie Hunter and Co-Founder and Board Chair John Rosenthal are pleased to announce that P.A.A.R.I., in partnership with Brandeis University, has earned a grant to support the continuation of its One2One Engagement to Recovery program, which is designed to prevent fatal overdose and increase treatment engagement.
P.A.A.R.I. has been awarded a $149,173 grant from the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA, the University of Baltimore and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Combating Opioid Overdose through Community-Level Intervention (COOCLI) grant program. The grant will support P.A.A.R.I.’s One2One: Engagement to Recovery initiative, which empowers police officers and community partners to distribute fentanyl test strip (FTS) kits to those in need, as well as provide referrals to treatment and information about other resources available to those who use drugs and their loved ones.
One2One is a pilot-tested, evidence-based, police-led intervention project across Massachusetts and Maine which seeks to increase engagement in substance use related services and supports among people using stimulants and opioids who are at risk of fatal overdose.
The award is part of a $299,149 grant from the University of Baltimore’s Center for Drug Policy in Prevention to Brandeis University, which P.A.A.R.I. partnered with to conduct the pilot program with funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Recognizing police have a front row seat to the opioid epidemic, the Heller School/P.A.A.R.I. team designed One2One to expand the resources of law enforcement agencies nationwide as part of the collection of strategies to create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. The Heller School will evaluate the program and assist PAARI in developing a training protocol that can be disseminated nationally.
Through the program, P.A.A.R.I. will provide training for officers and community partners on how to distribute the FTS kits and provide access to resources in up to 12 communities in Massachusetts and Maine. Nine communities have elected to participate thus far and P.A.A.R.I. will issue a request for applications from interested police departments early next month. P.A.A.R.I. will provide FTS kits and train police officers and community partners on how to distribute the FTS kits and offer referrals, share information about relevant services, and provide other selected tools to kit recipients.
“Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug that can often be used unintentionally by people under the impression they’re consuming another drug,” P.A.A.R.I. Co-Founder and Board Chair John Rosenthal said. “This program will help prevent fentanyl overdose by ensuring people who are using drugs are aware of its presence and, just as importantly, will serve as a way for police and community partners to connect with these individuals and link them to resources to support their recovery.”
Nearly half of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S are associated with the illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is now used alone and found in heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit opioid pills. New England is particularly hard-hit by illicit fentanyl, which is highly potent and thus prone to cause accidental overdose. People who use drugs are aware of fentanyl in the drug supply, but they must rely on ineffective methods to detect it, such as smell, taste, color and word of mouth. One potential solution is the use of fentanyl test strips (FTS). FTS are simple to use, and involve combining a small amount of a drug with water prior to consumption and observing the test strip result. Research has shown that FTS is a feasible, useful tool linked to increased self-efficacy and important safety and drug use behavior changes.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity build upon the early successes of this initiative by equipping more of our police and community partners with proven strategies and an innovative tool to connect with and support people who suffer from substance use disorder,” Hunter said. “Amid COVID-19, people with substance use disorders are more vulnerable than ever, and overdoses are on the rise in many communities. Police efforts to respond to overdoses and provide pathways to treatment and recovery have never been more important.”
P.A.A.R.I. and Brandeis together are among eight recipients of grants focused on reducing overdose deaths through the COOCLI program.
“Building a culture of harm reduction is important foundational work that saves lives and enables opportunity for hope, treatment and recovery. The opioid crisis has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “We have worked closely in partnership with P.A.A.R.I. in their life-saving and life-altering work and I’m pleased to see the innovative fentanyl test strip program, that we pioneered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, expanding.”
“The pilot of the One2One project proved that this approach can have tangible impacts on those in need,” said J.T. Fallon, Executive Director of New England HIDTA. “We are confident that expanding this program will have a significant positive impact on combating opioid overdoses, and we are proud to work with P.A.A.R.I. and Brandeis University to achieve that goal.”
The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester, Mass. Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, P.A.A.R.I. has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. We provide technical assistance, coaching, grants, and other capacity-building resources to more than 500 police departments in 35 states. We currently work with more than 130 law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts alone. P.A.A.R.I. and our law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Our programs and partners have saved thousands of lives, changed police culture, reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic and have placed over 24,000 people into treatment since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.