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HOPE Initiative marks milestone

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Friday, February 9, 2018

Today marks the second anniversary of the Nashville Police Department’s HOPE initiative and the program has seen marked results helping people deal the substance abuse disorders.

Nashville Police Chief Tom Bashore, who founded the program two years ago, describes the HOPE Initiative as “an angel program that encourages individuals with any type of substance use disorder to come into the police department and start their journey toward recovery.”

Since its inception, the HOPE Initiative has been recognized by Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein as a model program for the treatment of opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders. The program has also raised about $65,000 from grants, fundraisers and donations from businesses and residents and has enlisted a dedicated volunteer base that helps with finding resources, compassionate listening and transportation issues.

About 100 people participated in the HOPE Initiative during its first year of operation. However, after two years, more than 320 people have gone through the program. Of those 320, 271 have been in detox and 155 have been placed into long-term residential programs. Eight of those, Bashore said, were people who were incarcerated and released from jail to attend treatment programs.

Participants in the program have been predominantly male, with 192 men and 128 women who have benefited from the HOPE Initiative. Most of these participants — 260 — were battling opioid use disorders. Another 21 had alcohol use disorders, nine had stimulant use disorders and 30 had other substance use disorders, Bashore said.

Bashore said the program has seen good success so far.

“We have tracked as many participants as possible and less than 60 have returned to use. But there is an old cliché that I think is appropriate here: ‘Even if we have helped one person it was worth it,” Bashore said in a recent press release. “Innumerable lives have been saved, crimes have been deterred and families have been restored — all based on the work of the HOPE Initiative.”

However, Bashore sees more work ahead.

“The struggle is not over — not even close. North Carolina loses almost four citizens each day to an overdose,” Bashore said. “We must continue to do the following to help reduce this number: Reduce the stigma attached to this disease, offer viable options and reduce barriers for those seeking treatment, work on prevention to help reduce the number of young people becoming addicted, and support enforcement of those who are distributing this poison to our communities.

“We must do this with compassion and commitment to assist those seeking a path to recovery.”

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