UNION COUNTY, NJ – The Union County Freeholders have launched a new program to help combat substance use, reduce overdose deaths, and reduce relapses in the county.

Union County Helping Hands 365 (UCHH365) is designed to improve access to treatment and support services by connecting addicts with peers who have achieved sobriety and are trained to help others. 

“Receiving trained, professional guidance from someone who has lived through the experience of addiction can make an enormous difference in an individual’s ability to recover, and to avoid relapse over the long term,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

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“The Peer Recovery Specialists are trained to leverage their personal experiences, build trust, and help each individual connect with resources that enable them to turn their lives around,” said Freeholder Christopher Hudak, who sponsored the Freeholder Resolution establishing the program.

Prevention Links, a local non-profit organization, will implement the new program, which offers:

  • Weekly support for three months and bi-weekly support thereafter, for a total of up to six months.
  • A 24/7 Hotline staffed by Peer Recovery Specialists will be available.
  • Outreach and education for local community leaders, enabling Recovery Specialists to respond to referrals and visit persons seeking help in a familiar environment, including places of worship, community centers, social clubs and nonprofit agencies.
  • Training for law enforcement so that individuals may be referred by law enforcement to the UCHH365 program.
  • On call coverage at designated locations in communities with the greatest rate of overdose (Cranford, Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway, Union) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 24 hours per day between the hours of 8:00 p.m. Thursday through 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
  • Transportation assistance for persons going into treatment.

The program will serve at least 250 Union County residents before the end of 2019. Any Union County resident over the age of 18 is eligible to seek help through UCHH365. Funding for the new program was approved during the regular meeting of the Freeholder Board on Thursday, June 27.

For more details about the program, call Prevention Links (855) 825-3275.