In late January of this year, a new program was launched in Macomb County that hopes to make a difference to those who are struggling with opiate addiction. Hope not Handcuffs allows a person battling addiction to walk into a police station and ask for help without fear of reprisal. In other words, you can ask an officer for help with your drug problem and you won’t get arrested or charged with a crime.
For parents who are struggling with addictions, whether it’s alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication abuse, there is so often no place to turn for help. Reaching out can mean having your struggle exposed to law enforcement and social workers, and the thought of losing your children is terrifying. So most parents keep their addiction under wraps and try to manage on their own. This is rarely a strategy that works well.
Hope not Handcuffs hopes to end that struggle. Although the program is only currently running in Macomb County, 41B District Court Judge Linda Davis hopes it will meet with success and eventually spend to include the entire state. This program, she says, allows addicts to be diverted into treatment before their addiction lands them in a courtroom, and then behind bars. It can also be the difference between a parent getting help and keeping their children, and a parent losing their children to the state because CPS steps in.
So how does it work? A person either applies online at the Hope not Handcuffs website, or simply walks into any police station in Macomb County and says that they are seeking help for a drug or alcohol addiction. Immediately an “angel” is mobilized to step in and assist them. Angels are a fleet of volunteers in the Detroit area who have been trained to respond when an addict reaches out for help.
Volunteer ‘Angels’ arrive at the police stations as soon as they are called!
They make the necessary phone calls to get that person into treatment at a rehab center. Although they aim for rehabs here in Michigan, if the right treatment can’t be found locally they will reach out to other states. The angel will sit with the addict, help them fill out the right paperwork, and ensure that they get a bed in a treatment facility that day.
They also help to sort out insurance issues, and make sure that the process is smooth and straightforward. People struggling with addiction are usually so overwhelmed, that this assistance is exactly what they need. There are already people who have been helped by this program, many of whom are in rehab here in Michigan, though some were sent out of state to get the help they needed.
The program is unique, in that it guarantees immunity. A person can show up at a police station, admit that they struggle with abuse of an illegal drug, and even turn over their drug paraphernalia, all without any legal repercussions. So a person hoping to overcome crack cocaine use can hand their crack pipe over to an officer and not be arrested. The same goes for a heroin addict turning in their needles, spoons and syringe.
As defense attorneys who have been representing parents in Michigan for decades, we have seen the damage that addiction can do to a family. We have also seen how harmful incarceration is, when all a person needs is treatment. For that reason we encourage our readers to make use of this program if they, or a loved one, are parents who are struggling with addiction and don’t know where to turn for help. This opportunity could mean the difference between battling an addiction on your own terms, and battling CPS on theirs!