Law Enforcement’s Role

While the choice to seek treatment must be theirs, Law Enforcement can encourage it and offer to help. When encountering a person with a substance use disorder, the person may concede that they have a problem, but may see barriers to treatment and recovery, such as:

  • Fear of withdrawal: Many people fear the effects of withdrawing from some substances, described earlier. These effects are inevitable but can be mitigated with treatment.
  • Stigma: One possible barrier keeping a person from seeking treatment and recovery is stigma. Stigma is often defined as a mark of shame or disgrace.
    • Officers should refrain from calling individuals “addict”, “junkie” or “alcoholic”, especially from those who haven’t identified themselves the same way. These can have a stigmatizing effect on a person. The feeling of being stigmatized can make some people resistant to seeking help, as they want to avoid the “label”.   
  • Officers should familiarize themselves with treatment and recovery options in their areas. The best state-wide resource to identify local options is Maine’s 2-1-1 system.