Get Back Up adds cornerman to fight
No one has to fight alone.
The Get Back Up program was created to extend a helping hand to those affected by drug addiction — specifically the opioid crisis — in Franklin County. Recently implemented, the initiative now offers an on-call cornerman who truly understands the fight.
John Lloyd, a recovering addict who has transformed his outlook on life from dependent to dependable, is currently serving as a liaison for Get Back Up, providing relatable face-to-face interaction and treatment options for potentially dire circumstances.
Spearheaded by Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal, Get Back Up was launched by the Franklin County Overdose Task Force earlier this year, with a goal of diverting drug users to residential treatment rather than jail to improve overall public safety.
Under the program, individuals can walk in to any Franklin County police department or the district attorney's office and request help for their addiction without being charged with a crime.
While the program has experienced early successes, having Lloyd in the trenches could produce immeasurable triumphs.
"What we have now is peer-to-peer interaction, which is what was missing from this," Fogal said. "John is uniquely positioned to not only relate to someone in need, but to also present some authenticity to law enforcement with his own background. He's able to present to a person what they can be and be a vision of hope."
Lloyd is employed by Roxbury Treatment Center in Shippensburg, and works with Get Back Up through a grant received by the program. He is also the founder and CEO of Noah's House and Gracie's Place, recovery homes in Chambersburg for men and women.
As a liaison, law enforcement officers can call Lloyd to the scene of a drug-related incident, where he then engages the person and tries to direct them to a solution.
"John is uniquely positioned to develop relationships with the police officers who will actively call him and keep him in mind when there's a situation," Fogal said. "John can interface with that person, and he's an ambassador in a sense for both sides. He conveys to users that they can trust the police, they want to help you. And, on the other side with the police, he tells them what they need to be looking for, or 'this is why this person may be struggling right now.'"
Lloyd understands, because he's been there.
"There's an opportunity for me to speak into somebody's life that maybe others don't have, because I'm relatable," said Lloyd, who has been clean for six-plus years following a path to sobriety that included more than 20 recovery programs in seven different states. "The game hasn't changed, the behaviors haven't changed. We have more similarities than differences, we're definitely of that same mindset. I'm just clean and sober today and can offer to work toward a solution."
Although deployed just three weeks ago, Lloyd has already responded to several calls while working directly with the Waynesboro, Washington Township, Greencastle, Chambersburg, Mercersburg and Shippensburg police departments.
Lloyd gave an example of meeting a user who overdosed at the Waynesboro Hospital around 4 a.m.
"When I get the call, I'm meeting them where they are, engaging them in conversations, talking to police officers involved, the doctors, and navigate them where they need to go," Lloyd explained. "Not everyone is going to accept treatment. We can't mandate treatment, but we want to encourage the individuals and let them know that law enforcement isn't bad, treatment isn't bad, it's totally different."
That direct and immediate response when a user is vulnerable could make all the difference.
"This is needed, and long overdue," Waynesboro Police Chief James Sourbier IV said. "We as police officers have a great deal of knowledge in this ourselves, but what we do not have is the credibility. John has the credibility that we don't because we have not lived that culture or lifestyle, and whether we know all about it, they won't give us credit for having the necessary empathy to actually help them. But, someone like John, he can give them hope and make them feel like they can do this."
Sourbier also compared Lloyd's role to that of Kay Martin, who is making a tremendous impact as a mental health liaison for local police departments. Lloyd and Martin will work together to find the proper care based on the individual circumstances of the case.
Fogal believes the addition of Lloyd can further strengthen the progressive efforts already being made by law enforcement.
"We're not going to arrest our way to a solution," Fogal said. "We need to find alternatives, we need to find treatment, levels of care that are appropriate. When we're in a position to just stop, forget about the box that we're in and think outside of it to figure out how we can connect with people, that's what gets my attention."
Enter Lloyd, who is a phone call away.
"You can't force somebody to get help, but you can absolutely empower them," Lloyd said.
Those seeking help can reach out to their local police department or call Lloyd at 717-372-4497.
Contact Ben Destefan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-762-2151.