Publication Date
Published by / Citation
Partner Organisation
United States
First Responders
substance use

Connecting Communities to Substance Use Services: Practical Approaches for First Responders


During their day-to-day work, first responders such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel often encounter people who use drugs (PWUD), including alcohol, opioids, stimulants, and other substances. These encounters provide opportunities to connect people to substance use services and ancillary supports. A growing number of approaches, programs, and other resources are available to help first responders support PWUD so they can receive the assistance they may need.

This guide provides practical, evidence-based information that first responder agencies, their partners, and communities can use to implement or expand practices and approaches for linking people to substance use services. It presents relevant strategies and public health approaches, resources and program models, potential challenges and other important factors to consider when implementing approaches to support PWUD.

In addition to first responder agencies and communities, organizations that may benefit from
this resource includes those seeking to collaborate with first responders, such as substance use treatment providers, local health departments, hospitals, peer and recovery support organizations, harm reduction coalitions, and other community partners.

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