FREEHOLD, NJ — In collaboration with community partners, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has launched two initiatives to help combat the opioid epidemic.

A 24-hour helpline has been established — 833-OHH-CARE — that is staffed by recovery coaches from Recovery Advocates for the Shore (RAFTS) and connects callers to opioid use treatment through CPC Behavioral Healthcare (CPC).

In addition, the new prosecutor-led pilot program, called the Opioid Diversion Program (ODP), allows nonviolent offenders facing opioid possession charges to undergo treatment at CPC, rather than face traditional prosecution.

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Both programs are aimed at helping county residents with opioid-use disorders simplify their connection to local treatment, said Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

“This early intervention and treatment are key in breaking the cycle of opioid addiction and criminality, he said. “Along with our helpline, we hope that the Opioid Diversion Program will be a conduit for recovery as well.”

Under ODP, nonviolent offenders with pending opioid possession charges are referred directly to CPC for opioid use treatment. Upon successful completion of treatment, criminal charges will be dismissed.

Since the coronavirus crisis, the diversion program has moved to virtual individual and group therapy sessions with CPC. Additionally, all participants have been connected to recovery services from RAFTS for additional support during this health crisis.

“We at RAFTS are excited to be a part of this collaboration to further our mission to help families and individuals that are impacted by substance use disorder,” said Nicole Federici, founder of the Manasquan-based organization. “Our recovery coaches are prepared to assist the residents of Monmouth County as they begin their journey to recovery.”

CPC is also conducting virtual intake appointments and treatment sessions, as well as referrals to detox and inpatient programs, for new ODP participants and helpline callers until in-person services recommence.

“The structure of ODP, with the additional support of RAFTS, has given the participants a renewed opportunity to focus on recovery, especially during the current pandemic,” said Ken Pecoraro, director of addiction recovery services for the Eatontown-based nonprofit group. “I hope to see this program continue to grow and expand because so many people need the help.”

Gramiccioni also acknowledged the importance of outreach services for individuals suffering from opioid use disorder during the COVID-19 crisis.

 “Isolation and uncertainty can lead to an increase in opioid use and overdoses. If you know someone struggling with addiction right now, please call our helpline,” he urged.

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