UNION COUNTY, NJ--The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that the New Jersey Department of Corrections has awarded a grant of $200,000 to Union County. The funds will go to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs at the Union County Correctional Facility, for inmates with substance abuse disorders.
New Jersey committed a total of $1.7 million in MAT funding to county correctional facilities across the state. Union County was one of ten grant recipients.
“Our goal is to ensure that incarcerated individuals can make a fresh start and contribute to a stronger Union County on their release, and MAT programs are an essential part of that effort,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said. “With this additional state funding, we can provide the medical support that is proven to help former inmates get back on their feet and maintain sobriety.”
Grant recipients may only use the funds to purchase MAT medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The funding may apply to medications provided upon release as well as treatment during incarceration.
Introducing the MAT program during an inmate’s incarceration increases the likelihood of recovery sustainability and abstinence when they are released.
“A 2015 study shows that for opioid abusers, involvement in a MAT program during incarceration can reduce the risk of an early relapse,” Freeholder Christopher Hudak, who is the Freeholder Board liaison to the Union County Mental Health Advisory Board said. “These programs benefit the entire community by interrupting the cycle of drug abuse, crime, and incarceration.”
The new MAT funding is one of Union County’s initiatives to address the opioid crisis. In 2017 Bergen also introduced an initiative to fund an additional 25 beds for in-patient treatment, and the Freeholder Board joined with the Union County Sheriff and Prosecutor to launch CLEAR, the Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery program. CLEAR aims to encourage eligible addicts to seek help through law enforcement agencies, by providing a “safe space” for connecting with recovery services.
Other actions in Union County include an expansion of Project Medicine Drop from two locations in in 2013 to 12 in 2017, a Drug Court program that provides nonviolent offenders with access to recovery services, and the Union County Opioid Response Initiative, which provides for the recipients of police-administered naloxone to connect with addiction recovery specialists at local hospitals.
Union County has also expanded its use of an in-house treatment program for County inmates who are housed at Delaney Hall in Newark. The program, which is funded by the New Jersey Department of Corrections, covers both alcohol and drug abuse services including counseling and life skills.
The Freeholder Board is also co-sponsoring “Knock Out Opioid Abuse,” a free town hall event at Kean University’s STEM Building auditorium, 1075 Morris Avenue in Union Township, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 5 (doors open at 5:00 p.m.).
The event features Freeholder Hudak, Dr. Andrew Kaufman of Atlantic Health System, Prevention Links Executive Director Pam Capaci and Ammon Foundation Executive Director Mariel Hufnagel.
More information about the Knock Out Opioid Abuse campaign and town hall series is available at knockoutopioidabuse.drugfreenj.org.
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