Hope not Handcuffs addiction program sees 40 patients in first few weeks

A new rehabilitation program has seen success so far in southeast Michigan, but police say it's no easy task to get a drug user to voluntarily walk through that door.

The program is called Hope Not Handcuffs. It's been around for a few weeks now at the Ferndale police station and at every police station in Macomb County. In less than a month Hope Not Handcuffs, has seen 40 drug addicts seek treatment. Seven successful placements have been in just Ferndale alone.

"They are getting over that hump of being afraid of talking to police about that because they're coming in and talking to our officers," says Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown.

Hope Not Handcuffs gives addicts access to free treatment without giving them the fear of jail time. Anyone who is in need or want of help is asked to come to the participating police stations, where they will be welcomed with recovery support, no questions asked. A program volunteer, who refer to themselves as rehab angels, will then meet you at the police station. The angels help with everything from paperwork to transportation to various treatment centers.

Hope not Handcuff advocates are hopeful about the program, but a video shared with FOX 2 earlier this week shows exactly what authorities are up against.

The video shows a man sitting on a street corner in Detroit who had been shot in the leg. His priority should be getting help, but as he ties a belt around his arm it's clear what his priority was.

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Brown says video like this only drives home the need for programs like Hope Not Handcuffs, saying the war on drugs is changing.

"Let's look at a different way to do it because it's clear that the ways we have been doing it have been working with limited success," he says.

And that change is proving to work.

"We've had seven successful placements into treatment just in Ferndale alone," Brown says.

While the program was designed to combat heroin addiction, addicts struggling with other drugs can also participate. The program is sponsored through Families Against Narcotics.

The Ferndale Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in Oakland County to implement the initiative. Every police department in Macomb County also began participating earlier this year.