TRENTON, NJ - New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson has announced several initiatives to help local government combat the opioid epidemic in New Jersey, including:
- Awarding $1.67 million to 12 counties through the County Innovation Awards to Address the Opioid Epidemic to fund innovative local projects targeting opioid use disorder, prevention, treatment and recovery; Somerset County will receive $94,967 to support pregnant women and new mothers with substance use disorder through a focus on wellness.
- Providing more than 53,000 free doses of the life-saving overdose antidote naloxone – commonly called Narcan - to 424 police departments across the State;
- Providing more than 400 free doses of naloxone to the staff of public libraries throughout New Jersey; and
- Launching a $4 million public awareness campaign to connect New Jerseyans in need of assistance to addiction treatment through our 24 hour a day/seven day a week 1-844-ReachNJ addiction treatment hotline.
The 12 County Innovation Awards to Address the Opioid Epidemic represent the first phase of this initiative. Additional county awards are anticipated in the coming months. County award amounts were determined based on an existing addiction funding formula. Free naloxone to police departments and libraries is shipping this week.
“The Department of Human Services is committed to working with local leaders to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic,” Johnson said. “Today, we are announcing new awards that will support local innovative projects that were designed by and reflect the needs of local communities in combatting this public health challenge. We’re also helping local first responders get the tools they need to save lives by putting free naloxone into the hands of tens of thousands of police officers. And, we’re recognizing the community leadership role of public libraries by giving naloxone for free to librarians.
“We also upgraded our 1-844-ReachNJ addiction treatment hotline to ensure immediate connection to addiction counselors and redesigned our messaging to reflect the input of individuals in recovery and families of individuals with addiction,” Commissioner Johnson continued. “We believe community voices and actions are essential to fighting this epidemic, and today we’re demonstrating that through our investment in local solutions. Treatment works and recovery is possible, and the goal of the Murphy Administration is to save lives.”
Human Services is distributing more than 53,000 doses of naloxone to police departments throughout New Jersey, and more than 400 doses of naloxone to public libraries across the State. Today’s naloxone announcements build on Human Services’ work last year to begin getting lifesaving naloxone into as many hands as possible, including giving away 32,000 free doses of naloxone to the public in June and providing 1,200 free doses of naloxone to homeless shelter staff in September. The June initiative was the largest free giveaway of its kind in the country.
Human Services is investing $2.2 million in the latest naloxone giveaway. Each police department will get one two-dose pack for each full-time sworn officer in their department. In total, 424 police agencies requested the naloxone. Each of the 100 participating libraries is receiving two two-dose packs of naloxone.
The public awareness campaign to connect people to the1-844-ReachNJ addiction treatment hotline begins this week. The campaign will raise awareness of the 24/7 live counselor addiction helpline to connect callers to treatment. The campaign will include local TV and radio, social media and print ads, highway billboards, and convenience store, rail platform, bus shelter and bus posters, among other aspects.