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Alternatives to Arrest for Illicit Opioid Use: A Joint Criminal Justice and Healthcare Treatment Collaboration

NCJ Number
Substance Abuse-Research and Treatment Volume: 14 Dated: 2020
Andrea J. Yatsco; Rachel D. Garza; Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer; James R. Langabeer
Date Published
17 pages
This article profiles methods of a joint initiative between law enforcement and healthcare agencies in a large metropolitan area intended as an alternative to arrest for illicit opioid use, supplemented with law enforcement drug overdose data and statistics on law enforcement treatment referrals.
Opioid overdoses continue to be a leading cause of death in the United States. This public health crisis warrants innovative responses to help prevent fatal overdoses. There is continued advocacy for collaborations between public health partners to create joint responses. The high correlation between persons with opioid use disorder who have a history of involvement in the criminal justice system is widely recognized and facilitates treatment intervention opportunities. Law enforcement-led treatment initiatives are still relatively new, with a few sparse early programs emerging almost a decade ago and only gaining popularity in the past few years. A lack of published methodologies creates a gap in the knowledge of applied programs that are effective and can be duplicated. The current article outlines an interagency relationship between police and healthcare institutions that demonstrate arrest is not the only option that law enforcement may use when encountering persons who use illicit substances. 3 tables, 2 figures, and 36 references (publisher abstract modified)