By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
The Willard Police Department has joined the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative in an effort to help the addict and their family.
On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Willard Police Chief Mark Holden said the City of Willard, along with cities and towns all over the world, will be observing International Drug Overdose Awareness Day.
At 7 p.m. at the gazebo downtown, Danielle Garcia will speak about the problem of addiction and overdose. Candles will be lit so families can remember those they have lost to overdoses. Ceremonies will be held in other countries.
“It’s a worldwide problem,” Holden pointed out. “It’s not isolated to just Willard.”
Holden said there are volunteers who will serve on the PAARI board. Kay Carr is one of them. She said a goal is to try and change the stigma of a drug overdose death for the family.
In addition, PAARI is also being used to help someone who is addicted to find a path to recovery by helping them to connect to rehabilitation.
“We have all sorts of resources,” Carr noted. “We have resources for detox, rehab and after care. All they need to do is look us up. We can help them get the information they need.
“It’s a problem that’s affecting everybody,” Carr said. “PAARI lets people know there is help. It lets them know about some of the resources. That’s a big thing for families who have lost someone to an overdose.
“Addiction is a family disease,” Carr pointed out. “It reaches every facet of society. It reaches the rich and poor, the nameless and the famous. It doesn’t discriminate.”
Holden said 10 years ago, people thought the worst of a family who had a member die from a drug overdose. Times, he noted, have changed.
“It affects everybody now,” he pointed out. “We want families to know they don’t have to be embarrassed to have someone die of a drug overdose.
“We don’t want to seem like we are memorializing those who died,” Holden added. “We are just there to help the families. We just want them to know we are here for them.”
On Aug. 31, Carr said families can come to the gazebo at 7 p.m. and share their loss of a loved one and find solace in the fact there are people who care.
“Come out that night,” she said. “Light a candle for them to recognize them.”
Holden said state legislators are making it harder to incarcerate the drug dealers.
“A lot of the dealing we see is not high level,” he pointed out. “It’s just a few people who deal to support their own habit. It’s just hard to incarcerate them.”
The people who serve on PAARI do so for their own reasons, Carr pointed out.
“You can be part of the problem or part of the solution,” she said. “We’ve chosen to be part of the solution.”
Help, Carr added, is available for those who want help. Recently she and Holden spent a number of hours trying to get an addict into a rehabilitation center. He came on his own to the police department to find help.
Holden said if there are people who have illegal drugs and want a place to take them, there is a drug box in the lobby of the police department. It is a first step. No questions are asked about the drugs left in the secured box.
“Our success is in the ones who are seeking help,” Carr pointed out.
For someone who does want help with kicking an addiction, Holden said there are some criteria that must be followed. A person cannot be under indictment. Court charges must be adjudicated first.
“We can’t give immunity for something like that,” he stated.
“They can be on probation,” Carr noted. “But, this is not a get out of jail free card.”
Resources, according to Holden, are limited. PAARI will help anyone who wants to stop their addiction to drugs.
“They just have to seek us out,” Carr said.
For someone seeking help through PAARI to get off of drugs, Holden said making that decision is the first step. They can call the Willard Police Department at 419-933-2561 and ask for Holden. The police department has a tip line at 419-933-6110.“We can help you,” Holden stated. “You have to want to help yourself first.”