HOPE Initiative

In October of 2018, the Rhode Island State Police, in partnership with the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Prevention and Intervention; the Department of Health; the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals; and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services launched the Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) Initiative (Initiative). The Initiative encourages individuals who are at risk of overdosing to be assessed and treated, and is the first statewide outreach strategy that engages law enforcement to proactively combat the opioid overdose epidemic by pairing officers with substance use disorder clinicians and recovery coaches to identify those who are at risk individuals and guiding them on a path towards treatment and recovery.

The program provides a daylong training program on substance use disorders, treatment, and recovery for state and local law enforcement officers, enabling them to help people obtain and sustain long-term recovery. All 39 Rhode Island law enforcement agencies have completed the training.

As part of the ODMAP[1] Statewide Expansion and Response Demonstration Project, sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program, the Rhode Island State Police and the HOPE Initiative are able to collect information from first responders to create an alert system of real-time data on overdose reports. These efforts enable HOPE teams to track overdose reports and gather the information and resources necessary to follow up with anyone who has survived an overdose. In addition to identifying those in need through the ODMAP alert system, the HOPE Initiative focuses on patients who are discharged from the hospital after suffering an overdose, inmates who received substance-abuse treatment in prison and are being released, and those who miss a court date for a drug charge.

The HOPE Initiative also has partnered with the Herren Project, founded in 2011 by former professional basketball player, Chris Herren, the mission of which is to help individuals and their families “navigate the road to recovery from the disease of addiction.” Herren credits his recovery to law enforcement officers who saved his life from four overdoses.

The HOPE Initiative is funded through state and federal grants and has saved countless lives in Rhode Island since its inception. For more information on the Hope Initiative, logon to https://rihopeinitiative.com/.

[1] The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) was developed by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas in 2017 and is available to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and public health agencies at no cost. For more information, go to  https://www.odmap.org/.