Scarborough’s Operation Hope opioid addiction program in need of white knight

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SCARBOROUGH — With its resources depleted and manpower limited, Operation Hope is facing a crisis.

Staff members who run the treatment program for opioid addicts found out last week it will not receive a federal grant of about $108,000 that would have allowed hiring of a full-time employee to provide day-to-day management and long-term case follow-up.

Nearly 70 percent of the grant, or $74,000, would have been used for 18 months of salary and benefits; about $33,000 would have been used for medication-assisted treatment, with a bit left over for supplies.

Operation Hope was started in October 2015 by the Police Department to offer addicts a treatment path instead of a path to incarceration. It has placed more than 220 people in treatment centers across the country, and has been a model for similar program in other communities.

The program is run by two Police Department employees, including Chief Robbie Moulton. So not only are money and resources running out, but there isn’t staff time to follow up on individual cases.

“We applied for the grant because we don’t see this as a sustainable model for the long term, and we never did,” Moulton said Thursday. “It was always supposed to be a bridge until the cavalry rode in, and unfortunately they haven’t.”

Operation Hope has survived on donated treatment beds, and now has about $70,000 in its coffers, which can only be used to help with treatment costs and travel.

Now that the program is more than a year old, and has proved to be successful, there’s a need to track people who have gone through the programs, which could lead to better practices, the chief said.

“We’re at a point where we’re a victim of our own success,” Moulton said. “At the same time, until something else is in place, I can’t just close the doors. It would be inhumane, in my opinion, because there is such a need and because there isn’t a lot out there for people.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

The Scarborough Police Department runs Operation Hope, which places opioid addicts into treatment. The program needs funding to continue its mission.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.