Hope not Handcuffs

A significant barrier to treatment for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder is the ability to find and access appropriate treatment and recovery services. Hope Not Handcuffs is an initiative that addresses this issue by having law enforcement personnel help those  struggling with a substance use disorder find pathways to treatment without arresting them.

Hope Not Handcuffs was created by Judge Linda Davis, former District Court Judge in Macomb County Michigan and Executive Director of the Michigan-based Families Against Narcotics (FAN). Since the inception of FAN in 2007, the organization has grown to over 22 chapters throughout the Michigan.

In 2017, FAN started the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative which was inspired by the Police-Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). Created in Gloucester, MA by Police Chief Leonard Campanello, PAARI helps support local police departments by providing guidance, support, training, and resources on how to create non-arrest pathways to treatment for those struggling with a substance use disorder. Hope Not Handcuffs builds on the work of PAARI and is premised on the understanding that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. The goal of the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative is to get those suffering with a substance use disorder into long-term treatment. Over 600 volunteers, called “angels” provide support to individuals who are accepted into the program in the form of helping with paperwork, finding housing, signing up for services, and providing support until treatment is started. Many of the angels are themselves in long-term recovery.

Under the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative, a person with a substance use disorder can walk into a participating police department and ask for help, and they are met with support, compassion, and respect. If a person does not feel comfortable going to a police department, he or she can also complete an online assessment.

Once accepted into the Hope Not Handcuffs program, the individual goes through an intake process to determine the best course of treatment for him or her and what services are needed to support recovery. Under the current program requirements, a person is ineligible for the program if he or she has a felony or domestic violence warrant; is a danger to others; is under the age of 18 and does not have the consent of a parent or guardian; or has a medical condition that requires hospitalization. If the individual seeking treatment is accepted into Hope Not Handcuffs and is uninsured or has Medicaid, the program works with the state office that is responsible for substance abuse services to find placement for treatment. If the person has private insurance, the initiative identifies a treatment provider that is covered by the person’s insurance plan. As of July 2021, the initiative is available in over 100 police departments throughout Michigan and 47 police departments in New York. To date, over 6,000 people are in recovery after going through the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative. FAN’s goal is to expand the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative nationwide.

For more information about FAN or the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative, logon to: www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/hopenothandcuffs or call 833-202-HOPE (4673).


Families Against Narcotics. “Hope Not Handcuffs.” n.d. Accessed September 15, 2021. https://www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/hopenothandcuffs.

Psychology Today. Can’t Get In: Barriers to Addiction Treatment Entry. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201203/cant-get-in-barriers-addiction-treatment-entry.

PAARI (The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). n.d. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://paariusa.org/.

The Spinal Column. Police departments, Addicts Join Forces through Hope Not Handcuffs. July 21, 2021. Accessed September 16, 2021. https://www.spinalcolumnonline.com/articles/police-departments-addicts-join-forces-through-hope-not-handcuffs/.

Tri-County Community Partnership. “Hope Not Handcuffs: Hudson Valley.” n.d. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://tricountycommunitypartnership.org/program-information.

Work it Health. Judge Linda Davis, Director of Families Against Narcotics, on Overcoming Stigma and Finding Help for Opioid Addiction. July 10, 2019.  Accessed September 15, 2021. https://www.workithealth.com/blog/2019-7-10-an-interview-with-judge-linda-davis/.