Jail and Emergency Department Diversion in Texas
Officials in Bexar County, Texas, reduced rates of incarceration, recidivism, and avoidable use of emergency response services by individuals with substance use disorder. The county established a “Restoration Center” to assist with detoxification, sobering, outpatient treatment, and in-house recovery. Combined with crisis intervention team training, the program and its associated jail diversion program diverted more than 17,000 people from jails and emergency departments, saving Bexar County taxpayers more than $10 million a year.
Safe Stations in New Hampshire
Officials in Manchester, New Hampshire, launched Safe Stations to reduce drug addiction and opioid-related overdoses by connecting people with treatment at fire stations. While not directly attributed to the program, as of early 2017 suspected overdose rates in Manchester decreased 44 percent, and the suspected fatality rate dropped 53 percent compared to 2016. Administration of overdose treatment medication by the fire department decreased and local police reported that Safe Stations gave them greater freedom to focus resources on criminal investigations.
Looking Ahead: Evaluating and Spreading Interventions
The authors report that many local programs targeting untreated substance use disorder and serious mental illness are not well understood beyond their communities. There is a significant need for thorough evaluation and widespread dissemination of successful local approaches. Specifically, more research is needed to understand what approaches communities can most readily and effectively adopt to address the impact of these untreated illnesses and diseases. More evidence will allow city and county leaders to make better informed decisions about investing in programs that improve the well-being of individuals, and help mitigate the impact they have on local communities.
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