5 overdose, 1 dies in single day in New England city known for opioid program
Written by NH1 News on .
GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Police are working to identify the source of the drugs that led to five overdoses, one fatal, in one day in a Massachusetts city.
Gloucester Police Chief John McCarthy says it appears that a "strong source of drugs" came into the city sometime Friday. Officers suspect it could involve synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Authorities said Sunday one woman died after suffering an apparent overdose at Addison Gilbert Hospital, where she had accompanied another person who was being treated.
The city has become known for its police department's ANGEL program, which encourages addicts to turn in their drugs to police without fear of arrest in order to get fast-tracked for treatment.
McCarthy told the Associated Press in July that the city is seeing more fatal overdoses than when the program began in June 2015.
McCarthy, who took over last October after the prior police chief and founder of the ANGEL program was forced into retirement after misleading investigators in an unrelated matter, said in July that a spate of overdoses on fishing vessels prompted local officials to start distributing Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug commonly known as Narcan, to boat operators and training their crews on how to use it.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a nonprofit established to help the Gloucester police and more than 260 other departments in 30 states that have adopted its model, has also brought on a number of full-time staffers, including an outreach worker whose job is to keep up with the hundreds of addicts who have gone through the program and to seek new participants.
The organization, which goes by its initials, PAARI, has also received a grant to post 25 AmeriCorps service members at police departments throughout Massachusetts to do similar work. It's working with the local sheriff's office to start assisting prison inmates with substance abuse problems as they're released.