Providence marks milestone in drug addiction treatment program


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One hundred people struggling with drug addiction have sought help through Providence’s Safe Stations program, city leaders announced Monday.

The program, which launched last January, allows residents to walk into any of the city’s fire stations at any time, any day of the year, and get access to treatment and recovery services.

“If you think of last year throughout the state, there were about 24 homicides in all of Rhode Island, but there were about 300 overdose deaths,” Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said.

The idea was introduced by the city’s acting EMS Chief Zach Kenyon after he learned of a similar program in New Hampshire. City officials on Monday praised Kenyon and the others who made the program a reality, saying it’s working and saving lives.

The city of Providence is disproportionately affected by overdose deaths, according to City Council President Sabina Matos. She said from 2016-2018, 252 people died from an overdose in Providence.

“We have helped save 100 individuals. Just think of what would have happened if we didn’t have those resources available here,” Matos stated.

Among those 100 people was Adrienne Wood, who walked into a Safe Station in February 2018 after battling opioid addiction for more than a decade. She said her trouble started when she was prescribed painkillers following a car crash.

“It’s everything after you walk through that station that is a key factor to my recovery today,” Wood said.

Wood said she was in detox within hours of walking into the Branch Avenue fire station and has been clean ever since.

“It’s been a journey, and it’s every key component in this program that has saved my life,” she added.

Elorza said the city of Newport will be launching its own Safe Stations program in the coming weeks. He hopes one day it will be a statewide initiative.

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