NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – New Haven is the first police department in the state to begin handing out harm reduction kits to addicts.
It’s a different approach in helping drug addicts get treatment they need.
The kits that New Haven will be handing out will not only contain clean equipment that addicts typically use, but plenty of information to let people know help is available.
The plastic bags are filled with items those struggling with drug addiction use on a daily basis.
“There’s clean needles, sterile water, some burner, cotton, Brillo for filters, there’s a tourniquet,” said Robert Lawlor.
Starting on Thursday, whenever someone gets arrested and is incarcerated in New Haven, they’ll now have an opportunity to leave the city’s detention facility with a harm reduction kit.
“Harm reduction meets people where they’re at in a non-judgmental, compassionate way,” said Joanne Montgomery.
Joanne Montgomery is a licensed social worker and addiction counselor, but she has been in recovery herself for the last 25 years.
“I’m here to tell you, harm reduction works. It saved my life until I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually ready to have a life,” Montgomery said.
In addition to these resources to help them use safely, including fentanyl test strips, the kits also contain information to connect them to the support and services they need.
It’s why last month, nearly four dozen New Haven officers went through training regarding harm reduction and the stigma of substance abuse.
“We’re not promoting drug use, we’re trying to help them, like Joanne said, until they’re ready, when they’re ready to finally receive treatment,” said Lt. Nick Marcuccio, New Haven Police Department.
Police say arrests won’t curb this epidemic and the idea is this alternative works hand in hand with traditional treatment.
“We know every time an individual is saved from an overdose, we’re giving them again, another chance to say yes to treatment and another chance to move into long-term recovery,” said Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The New Haven police chief says after originally training officers who are typically assigned to the detention facility, they hope to roll this out to the rest of the department.