Plymouth County Outreach

Innovative program in Massachusetts that sends outreach teams to the residence of overdose victims to provide access to treatment and support for the survivor and their family

Plymouth County Outreach (PCO) is a multifaceted collaboration of the 27 municipal police departments in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, working together to make treatment more accessible to those suffering from opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders. There is also multi-sector collaboration with hospitals, treatment centers, recovery centers, and faith-based leaders. 

Each department assigns outreach officers to visit the residence of individuals who have experienced an overdose within 12-72 hours of the event. Officers are in plain clothes and an unmarked cruiser, and they provide outreach alongside a PCO recovery coach and a licensed clinician and/or social worker. Each department also assigns data designees whose job is to keep the Critical Incident Management System updated.

PCO offers support, resources, and access to treatment to the overdose survivor, as well as offering help and resources to the survivor’s family members and/or loved ones. These resources include information on the county’s drop-in centers in East Bridgewater, Plymouth and Wareham, as well as access to naloxone and naloxone training.

More information on the program can be found in these presentations here and here. This public safety-healthcare system collaboration has been recognized in the journal here. The program has released a 2021 annual report with evaluation data.

Overdose deaths in Plymouth County have decreased 25% from 2017 to 2018.

Continuum of Care
Harm Reduction
Type of Evidence
Report with evaluation
Response Approach
Crisis intervention
Post-overdose response
Recovery coaching
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

While many communities in Massachusetts have implemented post-overdose outreach programs (see peer-reviewed article), none of the programs have been formally evaluated yet.

PCO reports:

  • outreach teams made 590 overdose follow-up visits in 2017
  • outreach teams have linked many people with treatment
  • Plymouth County police departments have received a significant increase in calls for assistance since the program was implemented

Notably, opioid-related overdose deaths have decreased 25% in Plymouth County, from 205 deaths in 2017 to 153 deaths in 2018, and this decrease may be partly attributable to the PCO program.

Also, in the first nine months of the program, it was reported that roughly 80% of patients with addiction problems agreed to seek treatment following an outreach visit.

More recent evaluation data from the 2021 Annual Report shows that around 60% of those identified as needing outreach were successfully contacted and, among those successfully contacted, more than 70% accepted services.