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July 22, 2021

How Police and Other First Responders Can Create Recovery Pathways for People With Substance Use Disorders

Police officers and other first responders often encounter persons with opioid, stimulant, and other substance use disorders (SUD) in their worst moments . . . in the midst of a drug-related crime, a child maltreatment report, or an overdose. When first responders see people repeatedly in the same situation, it is easy to become frustrated or feel less hope for a successful outcome. These experiences can lead to biases toward people with SUD, which can inhibit first responders’ willingness to participate in programs meant to link individuals in need to treatment.  Learning about the factors that contribute to addiction, as well as the challenges to obtaining treatment faced by people with SUD, can help reduce the biases first responders may feel toward people with SUD.

This webinar explains how many people begin to misuse both legal and illegal drugs, including the impact of childhood trauma, the effects of substances on brain chemistry, how changes to brain chemistry can impact an individual’s behavior, and barriers to treatment for people with SUD. The presenter demonstrates how police officers, other first responders, and medical, behavioral health, and human services professionals can contribute to and more effectively support long-term recovery and other positive outcomes for individuals affected by opioids, stimulants, and other substances.


  • Pamela Baston, MPA, MCAP, CPP, Technical Expert Lead, JBS International
  • Karen Maline, Project Manager, International Association of Chiefs of Police

To view a PDF version of the slide deck that was used during this presentation, click here.

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