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PAATH program gives addicts recovery options without fear of arrest

LA PORTE, Ind. -

La Porte’s program giving addicts the option to come to police for help without fear of arrest is expanding to include the fire department in a new initiative called PAATH.

La Porte has seen more overdoses in one week—18—than there have been addicts taking advantage of a potentially life-saving program in the past five months.

“I still think there is a stigma that if you go to the police station, they’re going to arrest you,” said one of the program’s ‘angels’, Teri Dilloway.

If they ask for it, however, police will give addicts the chance to get help without getting arrested, by connecting them with angels like Dilloway.

“We will take your stuff from you, but you’re not going to go to jail for that. We want to help you. Putting you behind bars is not going to help you,” she said.

This program, formerly known as PAARI, Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, has now been renamed to PAATH, Public Safety Assisted Access to Treatment and Health, and expanded to include the fire department.

“Not everyone is so willing, especially in an addict’s case to go to a police station to seek help, whereas we’re seen more as the caregivers out on the scene, and they may be much more likely to come to us,” said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

Starting in March, if addicts want to get help with their addictions, they can show up to any one of these four places 24/7 and tell an official they’re ready for recovery:

LaPorte City Police Department 1206 Michigan Ave.

LaPorte Fire Station #1 809 W. 18th St.

LaPorte Fire Station #2  115 East Shore Ct.

LaPorte Fire Station # 3  105 Boyd Blvd.

Officials will then match them up with community angels, who will connect them with resources to help combat their addictions.

“We want to make a difference, and we want to get them on the right path, because we don’t enjoy seeing them under the circumstances that we’re seeing them right now,” said Chief Snyder.

“If we make a difference in even one, then that’s one less person that we go out there and are administering Narcan to at a near death point, then it was worth it,” he said.

Doing that may be their job, but firefighters say they don’t like it.

“We would love to see them knocking at our door as opposed to responding to an overdose,” said Chief Snyder.

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