Governor Christie Announces $5 Million Award For Treatment For Pregnant Women And New Moms Addicted To Opioids

Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie today announced the award of $5 million in new contracts to expand integrated substance abuse treatment and medical care for pregnant woman and new mothers who are addicted to heroin and other opioids.

The effort follows up on multiple initiatives the Governor launched in September to combat the state’s opioid crisis. Through the competitive contracts, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) will provide funding to expand residential and outpatient treatment programs and recovery options for pregnant women, new mothers and babies.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of infants who have been exposed to opioids, such as heroin or prescription pain killers,” Governor Christie said. “It is imperative that we give these babies a fair start on life and ensure mothers get the treatment they need to restore their physical and psychological health. This approach to treatment of pregnant women and new mothers in a specialized, integrated program will promote long-term recovery while offering ongoing medical care and support services.”

The contracts – funded within the $200 million in new addiction spending announced in September by Governor Chris Christie – are expected to roll out in early December and continue until June 30, 2018. They are expected to provide residential treatment for at least 882 women.

The agencies awarded the contracts in the competitive bidding process were: The Center for Great Expectations Inc. in Somerset, $786,524; Capital Health System, $989,086; Eva’s Village Inc., $1.1 million; Robins Nest in Glassboro, $635,286; and Cooper Health System, $1.5 million.

The programs will serve women in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, Salem, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, and Passaic counties.

Under Governor Christie’s leadership, New Jersey has responded to the state’s opioid crisis with several innovative initiatives, including the development and expansion Recovery Coaches, Recovery Housing, medication-assisted treatment, Narcan distribution, Drug Court, peer programs, and prescription monitoring.

“Getting help for substance abuse benefits both the mother and the baby,” Acting DOH Commissioner Christopher Rinn said. “During pregnancy, addiction treatment can mean the difference between having a healthy child and losing a baby or giving birth to an infant with severe developmental challenges.”

Since 2011, New Jersey has seen between 500 and 630 addicted babies born each year with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Within 24-72 hours after birth, newborns with NAS can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. They may also have a higher risk of premature death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The type of services offered through the program promotes the integration of behavioral and primary healthcare that Governor Christie intended when he transferred the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) DMHAS last month from the Department of Human Services to DOH, noted DOH Acting Deputy Commissioner of Integrated Health Services, Carolyn Daniels.

In addition to participating in a residential treatment program and focusing on relapse prevention, women who participate in the program will have access to a psychosocial support system of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and others in recovery, referrals to obstetricians and nutritionists and services for housing, transportation, childcare job preparation.

“This is really a one-stop model of treatment that is designed to address many of the various issues that can deter a mother from sustained recovery,” Rinn said.

Governor Christie Announces New Toolkit To Help Towns Fight Drug Addiction

Governor Chris Christie today launched the ReachNJ Municipal Toolkit, a collection of resources designed to assist local leaders as they fight the opioid epidemic in their communities.

The Governor also extended the invitation to his second Candlelight Vigil that will take place in Trenton at 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6. Last year’s vigil on the State House steps was successful in bringing together several hundred members of the recovery community and its many supporters.

“This toolkit shares strategies for municipal officials to prevent drug abuse before it starts, to connect with those in need of help in beating an addiction and to inform people with drug problems and their families about the expanding resources available to them,” said Governor Christie.

Included in the toolkit are: Save the Dates and other materials related to the Governor’s 2nd Annual Candlelight Vigil; the “Not In My House” and Mayor’s Pledge; opioid addiction fact sheet; Social Media Graphics and web ads for placement by towns; multiple sizes of ReachNJ posters; prescription drug drop-off posters; and a sampling of ReachNJ ads and video clips.

Four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers. Even more alarming, a Centers for Disease Control report reveals that health care providers in the year 2012 alone wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In addition, an estimated 20 percent of juveniles with currently prescribed opioid medications report using those medications intentionally to get high or increase the effects of alcohol or other drugs.

To find the ReachNJ Municipal Toolkit and other prevention, treatment and recovery resources, visit To find help for an addiction problem, call the state’s 24/7 helpline at 1-844-REACHNJ.

“Violence is Not a Product of Mental Illness. Violence is a Product of Anger.”

From Slate:

Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.

Highlights from the Stigma-Free Conference

The Morris County Stigma-Free Committee’s first conference was held on November 1, 2017, at Morristown Medical Center. It featured speakers from across the spectrum of government, law enforcement, and the non-profit sector sharing their experiences and successes in the fight against stigma. Thanks to all who attended!

Here are a few video highlights from the conference:

Trio Honored for Leadership at First Morris County Stigma-Free Conference

Three leaders of Morris County’s Stigma-Free Initiative, a countywide movement aimed at promoting treatment for mental illness and addiction to foster recovery, received the first Leadership in Action awards at yesterday’s Stigma-Free Conference held at the Morristown Medical Center.

Honored for promoting a non-judgmental approach to offering treatment, and providing real alternatives toward recovery, were:

  • Dana Critchlaw, Jefferson Township—JT Connect
  • Rosaelena Klingener—Prime Healthcare/Saint Clare’s
  • James M. Gannon, Morris County Sheriff

They were honored at a conference sponsored by the Morris County Board of Freeholders and Atlantic Health System in collaboration with the Morris County Department of Human Services and the Stigma-Free Community.

Entitled “Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness and Addiction: Building Healthy Communities,’’ the purpose of the event was to bring the community together to help:

  • Create a non-judgmental environment where individuals with mental illness and addictions feel supported by their community and neighbors
  • Encourage people to seek treatment for these illnesses without fear of stigma
  • Provide prevention, treatment, & recovery resource information
  • Share ideas on stigma free activities — discuss successes and challenges
Stigma-Free Conference award-winners
(l/r) County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri, County Behavioral Health Services Director Laurie Becker, Dana Critchlaw, Sheriff James M. Gannon, Rosaelena Klingener, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo

“We understand this Stigma-Free effort is not something the county Freeholder Board could just proclaim as a reality – issue a proclamation and it will go away,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo. “We understand that Stigma-Free has to be more than just a slogan, that it has to become a fabric of live in our county community to have any real meaning., and to have a chance to succeed.’’

“Atlantic Health System is committed to building healthier communities, and that involves programs and partnerships outside of the walls of our hospitals,” said Trish O’Keefe, PhD, RN, president of Morristown Medical Center. “We aim to provide person-centered care that reflects the unique needs of each individual we’re privileged to serve. Through our ongoing partnerships with Morris County organizations, we’re able to ensure that both medical and psychosocial needs are met.”

Guest speakers at the conference provided, who spoke of the importance of a Stigma-Free approach, included: Bob Davison, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris; Pamela Garanger of the National Alliance on Mentally Illness; Melissa Kiritsis of Jefferson’s JT Connect; and James M. Gannon, Morris County Sheriff.

The Honorees:

Rosaelena Klingener:  A registered nurse, licensed social worker and nationally certified mental health first aid instructor, Rosaelena has worked for more than 25 year in the mental health field at Saint Clare’s Hospital. She is an advocate who makes connections, starts conversations, and fosters change.

In June, Rosaelena received NAMI New Jersey’s Provider Recognition Award for her compassionate support of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

She has long been committed to raising awareness, educating the public and bridging the gaps that prevent communities from accessing needed mental health and substance abuse services and resources. She has worked to promote a culture of understanding in which individuals get support in their wellness and recovery journeys.

Dana Critchlaw: A life-long Jefferson resident, Dana has long been a dedicated local volunteer and is the current leader of Jefferson Township CONNECT.

After her cousin took his own life in 2012, she began to reach out to people who were suffering, working to remove barriers that prevented people, like her cousin, from speaking up about the hurt and pain that mental illness can cause. Her efforts received strong public support.

In May of 2017, she chaired an inaugural event, “Hike for Hope,” partnering with the Mayor’s Wellness campaign and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The event raised $3,400 for to help educational efforts by AFSP.

Dana describes these last five years as an opportunity to “discover light in a dark time.’’  She knows in her heart that her late cousin, Danny, is thankful that she has spoken up for those who cannot find the courage to speak for themselves.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon: The former Chief of Investigations at the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Global Head of Security Risk at Novartis Pharmaceuticals took office in January. He promptly made combating the opioid epidemic in Morris County a priority, launching three programs:

Hope One – A mobile outreach program with the Morris County Department of Human Services and the Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES). The mobile unit provides critical support for individuals struggling with drug addiction. Life-saving Narcan training is available for persons living with addiction.

Hope Wing – The Hope Wing helps inmates address their addictions while incarcerated and serving their time through “New Direction” curriculum.

ID Program – The Sheriff’s Office and county Department of Human Services instituted an identification program for people ages of 18-54. Without ID, people cannot get blood work at a hospital, receive drug detox or treatment and cannot even obtain a library book.

Sheriff Gannon said he realizes the answer to the opioid epidemic lies in the private and public partnerships forged in Morris County.

To learn more about the Stigma-Free initiative, find resources, read the latest Stigma-Free news, and take a look at the a calendar of upcoming events related to mental illness and substance abuse, visit the Stigma Free website at

A Stigma Free Toolkit also is available for towns and communities.

Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace which results from the judgment by others. When an individual is labeled by their illness they experience judgment and prejudice. Stigma brings experiences and feelings of shame, embarrassment, distress, hopelessness and reluctance to seek or accept help.