CASPAR (Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation) is a community-based human services organization founded in 1970, with the goal of providing prevention, intervention, and treatment for individuals and families whose lives have been affected by alcoholism and drug use. Dedicated to underserved populations, including individuals who are indigent and homeless, CASPAR’s vision is to reduce the harm associated with substance abuse and contribute to a healthier community.

To achieve this vision CASPAR has developed a comprehensive array of addiction services with integrated mental health and homeless services, including homeless outreach programs, an emergency shelter, addiction stabilization programs, and specialized residential recovery homes for both men and women.

Dan’s story (not his real name), as told by their FirstStep Night team leader illustrates CASPAR’s important work:

While doing outreach in Central Square on a September night, FirstStep staff walked up to Dan. He was laying down on the bench behind the library. They noted that his breathing was very slow and his skin color was light blue. They immediately called 911 for an ambulance and administered Narcan to address the overdose. Staff had to give two doses of Narcan to get a response. After the second dose of Narcan, Dan’s color started coming back and his breathing improved, but he was still non-responsive. FirstStep staff stayed with him administering First Aid until the ambulance arrived. Dan was brought to the hospital and he survived. Later, Dan informed staff that he had overdosed on pills and heroin intentionally, wanting to die. Now Dan always thanks FirstStep for stopping that evening and helping him. He says he knows that he would not still be here today if they had just kept walking.