BARNEGAT/WARETOWN, NJ  -  It's not only a national epidemic but also one of local significance. The truth is that the opioid crisis hits both Barnegat and the Township of Ocean more frequently than anyone really knows.

For some, it starts out simple and is not age-restricted. A sports injury causes pain. Someone needs a knee or hip replacement. In both cases, the doctor prescribes something like Percocet or another pill in hopes of providing relief.

When it comes down to it, it's easily the reason that pain management clinics exist more than ever. Meanwhile, many search for opioids where they can find a quicker and cheaper fix.

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Truth be told, many don't use opioids just for physical pain. They're used to escape what they perceive as a cruel world. Meanwhile, some just like the way drugs make them feel.

When addiction becomes the inevitable, intervention starts the solution. Government resources seek to provide the funds to facilitate recovery.

New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson just announced that the Department has awarded nearly $4 million to provide services to help individuals with opioid use disorder sustain their recovery and to support initiatives to educate older New Jerseyans about preventing opioid misuse. 

“The Department of Human Services is committed to using all of our tools to fight the devastation brought by the opioid epidemic, which has robbed too many of our fellow New Jerseyans of their lives,” said Commissioner Carole Johnson.  “With these new awards, we are furthering our investment in prevention and recovery.”

Today’s investments build on the Department’s work to increase access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.  This included Free Naloxone Day in New Jersey, which provided 32,000 doses to 16,000 residents. There are also continuing efforts to train more health care providers to offer opioid addiction treatment, improve Medicaid coverage of opioid addiction treatment, and increase awareness with access to the  treatment hotline: 1-844-REACH NJ.

Awards were announced for two programs:

First, nearly $3.2 million were awarded to nine agencies to expand the Support Team for Addiction Recovery (STAR) program.  The STAR program provides case management and recovery support services to help individuals with opioid use disorder maintain a path to recovery.  Through the program, recovery specialists work with individuals to assist with critical issues that help to support recovery such as housing, employment, transportation, social services, and health care.

Each of the following organizations received $350,000 per county in funding for the STAR program:

·         Center For Family Services, serve Cape May and Salem Counties

·         Oaks Integrated Care to serve Cumberland County

·         Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care to serve Hunterdon County

·         Care Plus NJ Inc. to serve Morris, Passaic, and Warren Counties

·         Richard Hall CMHC of Somerset County to serve Somerset County

·         The Center for Prevention and Counseling to serve Sussex County

Second, awards were announced to fund the Alternative Approaches to Pain Management for Older Adults program.  Through this program, community groups work to improve education and outreach to older New Jerseyans about pain treatment alternatives to opioids, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, and certain over-the-counter drugs. 

Each of the following organizations received $75,000 per county in funding:

  • Camden County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to serve Camden County

·         Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction to serve Mercer County

·         NCADD of Middlesex, Inc. DBA Wellspring Center for Prevention to serve Middlesex County

·         Family & Children’s Service to serve Monmouth County

·         The Southwest Council, Inc. to serve Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties

·         Community in Crisis, Inc. to serve Somerset County

·         Family Guidance Center to serve Warren County

While the funding for these new programs doesn't apply to Ocean County, resources remain available by other means.