What to Know
- Bensalem Township is offering a new tool in its battle to help those dealing with opioid abuse.
- Police hope to lessen stigma so that more people can seek help.
- The goal is to quickly get someone seeking help into a treatment program before the grip of addiction takes back over.
A town just outside Philadelphia is tackling the opioid epidemic by a new offering treatment option within minutes of someone coming in for help.
Bensalem Township in Bucks County announced the launch of the new initiative that allows for anyone who comes into the station seeking drug treatment to be assessed via video teleconferencing with counselors from Gaudenzia and the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission.
"If someone needs to get off drugs, when someone has that moment when they are ready to quit, when they are ready to get clean, when they are ready to get cured, when the disease has let its guard down enough for them to get the help, you've got about a five minute window before they decide to get that next hit," Bensalem Township Police Director Fred Harran said.
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The goal is to quickly get someone seeking help into a treatment program.
"This partnership will enable us to do a live video assessment within (minutes) as opposed to appearing in person which often takes up to four hours," police said in a news release. "This will allow the assessor to begin a bed search or provide outpatient resources more expeditiously."
The new program is an addition to the existing Bensalem Police Assisting in Recovery Program (BPAIR) in which police can help someone they come in contact with get treatment for drugs.
The program, which is available Monday to Friday, is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, Bensalem police said.
If Gaudenzia doesn’t have room for a person in need of help, they will find another treatment center for that person.
Besides the video assessment, people seeking treatment will get a free ride from the police station to that treatment center no matter how far away it is.
Police hope the program helps to erase stigma and fear surrounding drug addiction.
Those looking for help won’t be in trouble — they won’t be arrested — instead police say getting treatment can end the addiction cycle and keep those addicted away from committing crimes if they can get off drugs.
"Treatment is really the way we are going to solve this issue," Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. "Incarceration is not the answer."
Not in the Bucks County area? The Commonwelath of Pennsylvania has a substance abuse hotline, 1800-662-HELP (4357), that is staffed 24 hours a day.