Police Offering Addicts Help: 'We Can't Arrest Our Way Out Of This Problem'

Drug Addiction Recovery Team (DART) - Police In Western Mass. Keep Knocking On Drug Users' Doors Until They're Ready For Help

(NPR) -- Emily Ligawiec has to sign in visitors to the recovery program she attends in a grand Victorian house in Holyoke, Mass. She can't bring people to her room. She only recently earned phone and car privileges.

"We get 24, 48, 72-hour passes every weekend," she said. But Ligawiec doesn't mind the restrictions. The 29-year-old is grateful she's alive to follow them, after a decade of addiction — first to prescription

painkillers, then pills she bought in the street, then heroin.

"I had gone down a pretty dark path." she said.

What finally turned her around was a 911 call last winter.

She had gotten high on heroin and stolen her mother's car. When she returned it a few hours later, Officer John Cacela of Ware, Mass., was waiting in the driveway.

In the past, Cacela might have immediately read Ligawiec her rights, "because for the longest time, the whole idea was — arrest, arrest," he said.

Instead, he tapped on the car window and assured her she wasn't in trouble.

"I closed the window on him a couple of times and then I opened it a crack. Like, 'what do you want