The opioid epidemic has swept the nation for over three decades, with overdose-related deaths surpassing 100,000 in 2021. However, in the past few years, the emergence of deflection and pre-arrest diversion (DPAD) initiatives has led to promising results in turning the current trend around and getting more people into treatment.

In Hamilton County, the third largest county in Ohio, a collaborative group of stakeholders launched two DPAD programs to address the rising number of overdose deaths in their community: Quick Response Team (QRT) and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

  • QRT consists of teams who follow up with overdose survivors and connect them to the most appropriate treatment and resources that meet their needs.
  • LEAD was designed to complement the QRT by allowing law enforcement to divert low-level, non-violent individuals with unaddressed addiction, mental illness, or homelessness out of the criminal justice system and into supportive services.

During a period of evaluation, two-thirds of the individuals referred to recovery support services by the Hamilton County QRT successfully accessed and engaged in those services. In the LEAD program, nearly three-quarters of the eligible individuals completed an intake assessment; of those, over three-quarters are receiving ongoing support.

From 2019-2020, although the state of Ohio witnessed a nearly 25% increase in overdose deaths, Hamilton County recorded an 11% decrease.

Hamilton County is only one example of a community that has found success with DPAD. Due to their success, programs like those in Hamilton County are now included in the Distributer Settlement Agreement as an approved strategy for opioid remediation activities.

The method and structure of programs can vary depending on the resources and needs of the community, but they all start with three critical first steps:

  1. Defining the problem or challenge
  2. Collecting data that supports the challenge
  3. Setting the table with the appropriate stakeholders

These are identified as necessary first steps in the Solution Action Plan, a comprehensive DPAD planning process developed by the Poli­­ce, Treatment, and Community Collaborative (PTACC). More information can be found on the PTACC website.

The opioid crisis has devastated communities for far too long, but the future is hopeful with the success seen in communities that have implemented deflection and pre-arrest diversion programs. For more information on how to get started, contact a member of the Cordata Community team.

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