A new drug program to help those in Bucks conquer drug addiction

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Tony Webster

Addiction Coffeehouse sticker on stop sign – New Orleans, Louisiana

Joshua Thompson

 

While America may be busy dealing with COVID-19, the drug addiction crisis hasn’t gone away.

Bensalem seemingly has the most drug problems in Bucks County, specifically heroin and meth. Sergeant Adam Kolman is the lead detective of the Bensalem Police department, and has seen and heard plenty of cases involving drug busts or people overdosing.

“We lead the county in drug arrests,” Kolman stated. “Thousands of drug arrests have been made here, and we have at least one overdose a day.”

According to Kolman, part of the reason for the drug problems has to do with Bensalem’s size and its proximity to Philadelphia.

The amount of drug overdoses in Bensalem isn’t going unnoticed, and a new program is trying to reduce overdoses while also getting people the help that they need.

Bucks County Police Assisting In Recovery (BCPAIR), is a program where people suffering with addiction can come to a participating police station, hand in their drugs, and will be assisted to resources that will help them recover.

The program was started by Fred Harran, a director of public safety for Bensalem Township. The goal of the program is simple: point people who have a drug addiction in the right direction. The program is similar to a treatment referral program set up in Massachusetts, also with the same idea of helping those with addiction.

If first-time offenders complete the program, drug charges are dropped.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the county’s Drug and Alcohol commission received a $300,000 grant to expand the program.

“These are the programs that are relied on to stop drug overdoses before they happen,” Kolman stated. “For the most part, we deal with the law enforcement part when it comes to these situations.

According to Drug abuse.gov, since 1999 the number of drug overdoses nationwide has gone up, with 2017 begin the highest with 67,000 deaths, most of them among males. In 2018, the number of overdoses dipped slightly. Bucks County had 34 deaths per 100,000 in 2018, three less than in 2017 when they had 37 deaths per 100,000.

The Bucks County Courier Times also reported that drug overdoses in the county dropped by 23 percent, continuing into 2020.

Even if patients do recover, there’s still a good chance that they’ll relapse. This isn’t stopping Bucks County officials, who have been aggressively tackling the issue.

Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo told the WHYY that while the region has seen some progress, there’s still more work to be done with opioid addiction increasing along with the use of methamphetamines and cocaine.

DiGirolamo also told the WHYY that he had personal experiences with someone with drug addiction, his eldest son. DiGirolamo and his family had a hard time getting their son the help that he needed. There were plenty of resources out there, but there was a lack of navigation when seeking out those sources.

Kolman said a few hundred people have turned in their drugs to BCPAIR in Bensalem. Despite this, Kolman hopes that BCPAIR can continue to reduce the amount of drug overdoses in Bensalem, and Bucks County as a whole.

While Bucks may have its fair share of problems with drug overdoses, that doesn’t mean there aren’t resources out there to help. Alongside BCPAIR, the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission site (BCDAC) list of other resources and programs.

If you know someone who’s struggling with drug addiction, go to www.bcadac.org, or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).