Heartbreak of the Opioid Epidemic

From Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey:

This week, I turn the PDFNJ blog over to New Jersey resident Don Riebel, whose son, Colin, died of a heroin overdose at age 22 in 2013. Don and his wife, Bobbie Lynn are featured, along with Dr. Andrew Kolodny, in an episode of Full Frame Close Up: Prescribing Pain, that was released by CGTN America this week talking about Colin’s story and the New Jersey legislation that they believe could have saved their son’s life.

On Nov. 23, 2013, I found my son in his bed not breathing. I immediately began giving him CPR until the paramedics arrived only to be told that they could not revive him. He was gone.

Until that fateful day, Colin had refrained from drug use for two months after being released from rehab 48 hours prior. Since age 15, Colin a former community/high school athlete struggled with opioid addiction. His love of sports would play the starring role in his untimely death.

Colin blew his rotator cuff playing baseball his freshmen year in high school, which resulted in surgery and a recuperation period that included a regimen of Percocet. During his sophomore year in high school, Colin participated in the sport he loved the most: football. In a span of three years, he tore his ACL three times, and each injury required surgery, bone grafting, physical therapy and pain management.

Pain management was a continuous regimen of Percocet. It wasn’t until Colin came to us and admitted to having a problem that we realized he needed help. His desire for that euphoric effect outweighed his love of sports and slowly began to take control of his everyday life.

The signs were not there in the beginning. Colin didn’t lose his charming demeanor, sense of humor and overall kindness for which he was known. It was first recommended to us that Colin would need outpatient rehab, which he consistently attended for about six months. Outpatient rehab turned into inpatient rehab, and after several attempts at remaining abstinent — along with more stints in rehab — his opioid addiction eventuality transitioned into heroin use. From there, he entered a downward spiral that no one saw coming.

Heroin took my son’s life at age 22. It took his dreams and our dreams that one day he would be in recovery and able to tell his story in his own words. This epidemic has stolen too many lives and has forced parents to bury their children. A child’s death is life out of order.

Addiction affects the whole family and through that experience our intent is help educate parents so no other parent feels this pain. If only I, as a parent, had known the dangers, the outcome would have certainly been much different. We have the responsibility to advocate for our children by making sure that we are present and participating in our child’s medical treatment. Ask questions and, most importantly, question your provider about prescriptions and whether or not they can become addictive. Just do not accept that the only way to effectively manage your child’s pain is through these types of drugs. Ask for alternatives.

Call for Artists – Heroin & Opioid Art Exhibition

Artists are invited to participate in the third annual Heroin & Opioid Art Exhibition, which highlights opioid and heroin abuse, addiction and recovery. Cash prizes are available for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entries!

All finalists will be invited to attend the Heroin Addiction Art Exhibition on August 23 at Gateway Project Spaces, in the Gateway Building in Newark.

Submissions will be judged on the message and originality.

Visit http://www.drugfreenj.org/HeroinArtExhibit/ for more information and to enter!

This event is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (NJ Division) and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse.

Morris Prosecutor: Opioid Forum for Students at Morris County School of Technology

Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury spoke on Monday afternoon at the Morris County School of Technology in Denville to educate the health care science juniors on the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic in New Jersey.

Brad Seabury in a speaking to a classroom full of students
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury addresses juniors at MCST

photo of Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury addressing class at MCST
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury addresses juniors ar MCST

The students are studying to become active members of the health care industry. The attending students take college level health courses and are the next generation of doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, the majority of whom will have access to opioids, as well as the power to prescribe these drugs.

Accordingly, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seabury were eager to conduct this presentation at the request of one of the healthcare science faculty.

Seabury’s presentation covered multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic, including how it impacts the community, what law enforcement is doing to combat the crisis, and the success of the current educational, enforcement, and treatment programs in Morris County, which is a Stigma Free county.Stigma-Free Morris County poster

He explained how the Prosecutor’s Office works with local agencies, such as the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and Morris Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES), to battle the current epidemic.

Even though the most residents are aware of the opioid epidemic, there is a general lack of knowledge about how street opiates have changed over the years.

Seabury provided a basic understanding of pharmaceutical opioid drug abuse, how this problem can lead to addiction, how heroin is used, distributed, and priced in Morris County, as well as how Fentanyl has become a major killer of illicit drug users.

Many of the students expressed interest in learning more about how they can help make an impact on the opioid and heroin epidemic in their future careers.

“Providing educational programs to students about to enter the healthcare profession can be a critical component in fighting the current heroin and opioid epidemic,” said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp. “We are grateful to the Morris County School of Technology for inviting us to speak to these future health doctors, nurses, and physical therapists”.

Inquiries should be directed to Public Information Officer Peter DiGennaro at pressinquiry@co.morris.nj.us or 973-829-8159.

Governor Christie Funds $5 Million for Campus Recovery Housing, Support Services

Trenton, NJ – Capping a two-term commitment to fighting addiction, Governor Christie today announced that nearly $5 million has been awarded to expand campus recovery housing, prevention, and treatment services at New Jersey colleges.

The five contracts were issued by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), now within the Department of Health, as part of the Governor’s efforts to treat addiction as a disease through integrated primary and behavioral health care. The “Supporting Students in Recovery” program will provide or expand supportive, substance-free living environments for college students in recovery as well as services aimed at preventing addiction.

“These recovery dorms provide a community of support for students and useful tools to help them in the life-long battle to maintain sobriety,” said Governor Chris Christie. “It’s important that we bring these services directly to the campuses, right where the students and their stressors and temptations are.”

Young adults of college age – 18-29- represent 40 percent of all treatment admissions reported to the New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System in 2016, and heroin use among young adults has more than doubled in the past decade, leading to a rising overdose rate, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control Prevention

The $4,762,000 was issued in multiple awards, with the average award being approximately $950,000, to The College of New Jersey in Ewing, Montclair State University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rutgers University in Newark, and Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

The Rutgers New Brunswick campus already has a comprehensive college recovery housing program, which was the first in the country and serves as a national model for campus recovery housing.

All public four-year institutions of higher education that provide residential housing were eligible to apply for the funding. Institutions that already had designated housing for students in recovery were eligible for the contracts to fund recovery programs, treatment and related services. Colleges or universities that do not yet provide recovery housing are required to use part of the funds to develop it – either through new construction or modification of existing space – and use the remainder for recovery and treatment services.

The substance abuse recovery housing program was established by August 2015 legislation signed by Governor Christie to require four-year public colleges and universities to have programs up and running within four years.

Although referred to as “recovery dorms,” designated housing may include a floor, wing or other area within a dormitory building or other student housing and does not require that an entire dormitory be substance-free. Project oversight will be provided by DMHAS.

In addition to providing a substance-free living environment, each contract awardee also must provide individual and group substance abuse recovery-oriented programs and services and implement prevention strategies, assessment, academic, and personal counseling services to students.

Pequannock Opens Recovery Center to Deal with Opioid Epidemic

The Pequannock Police Department has announced a collaboration with the Morris County Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES) in the opening of the new Pequannock Township Pop-Up Recovery Center.

The Center, which opened on Jan. 2, will provide critical support for persons and families struggling with addiction.

The Pop-Up Recovery Center utilizes trained and certified Peer Recovery Specialists who provide recovery support services to anyone who requests it — persons with addiction, family members, friends and coworkers.

“This is an excellent program that targets people and families in Pequannock and Morris County with addiction problems, fostering treatment and recovery,” said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo. “It fits right into the Stigma-Free philosophy we have adopted here in Morris County to help deal with addiction and mental illness.”

The Pequannock Township Pop-Up Recovery Center is located at the First Reformed Church, 529 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains. It is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Anchoring the support services provided at each Pop-Up Recovery Center is an All-Recovery Meeting, which is facilitated by the Peer Recovery Specialist. (These meetings are not 12 Step meetings and have no affiliation with NA/AA.) They are based on the philosophy that people from every recovery pathway have much in common and can benefit from sharing together.

They offer a place where people can share recovery experiences, with an emphasis on the hope and healing of recovery and how recovery has changed their lives, regardless of the substance or behavior that is at the root of our addiction.

The Pequannock Township Pop-Up Recovery Center is sponsored by the Pequannock Police Department Drug Forfeiture Fund, Pequannock PBA Local 172, Pequannock Municipal Alliance, Community Partners for Hope and the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains.

Any individuals or organizations interested in assisting or donating, please contact Lt. Michael Fairweather at 973-835-1700 ext. 159 or mfairweather@peqtwp.org.

Governor Christie Announces More Than $35 Million Awarded To Fight Opioid Crisis

Trenton, NJ –  Continuing his commitment to fight the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie today announced the State has awarded more than $35 million to provide intensive services to those with severe opioid use disorders, and pregnant and postpartum mothers and older adults with opioid painkiller dependencies.

“To ensure treatment is successful, it is essential that systems of care join seamlessly to treat the whole individual,” Governor Chris Christie said. “This funding supports the type of integration of behavioral and primary health care I envisioned when transferring the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health.”

ECM grants of $10 million each were awarded to Beacon Health Options of Boston (Northern and Central Regions) and Oaks Integrated Care of Mount Holly (Southern Region) to provide intensive, integrated services for people with severe opioid disorders and individuals who have experienced an overdose episode.

Once the programs are operating, the Department of Health (DOH) will make an additional $8.6 million available in performance-based incentive grants to those providers in the Enhanced Care Management program (ECM).

In addition to the ECM contracts, DOH also recently awarded $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. Through these competitive contracts, the New Jersey Department of Health will provide funding to expand residential and outpatient treatment programs and recovery options for pregnant women, new mothers, and babies.

Each of the ECM providers is expected to treat 1,800 people who are on Medicaid or Medicaid eligible, with priority counties being Camden, Essex, and Ocean. The program, funded by Governor Christie’s recently announced $200 million for initiatives to fight the opioid crisis, will provide people with the most acute disorders a variety of treatment, support, and recovery services at site-based and mobile settings.

The “one-stop” model of service coordination and delivery is designed to facilitate intensive, integrated care, with as many essential services as possible co-located at a particular site or sites.

ECM combines care management, wraparound and recovery services for those being discharged from licensed treatment facilities that provide long-term residential, short-term residential, halfway house, inpatient withdrawal management, and ambulatory withdrawal management. Services also will be available to individuals who are admitted to opioid maintenance outpatient and intensive outpatient and standard intensive outpatient services.

Medicaid-covered or eligible individuals with an opioid use disorder that will be released from the New Jersey State Prison system after completing the addiction treatment programs at Edna Mahon and Mid-State Correctional Facilities, as well as state psychiatric hospitals, also will be eligible for services. People discharged from health care facilities, such as acute care hospitals and Veterans Administration Hospitals, also will be eligible for ECM.

The contracts for services for opioid-dependent pregnant and postpartum women are expected to provide residential treatment for at least 882 women.

“This approach to residential 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,” Governor Christie said. “Treatment can help restore a mother’s physical and psychological health and give babies a fair start in life.”

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

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 also could have a higher risk of premature death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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, and job preparation.

DOH also recently awarded $275,000 to educate older adults about the dangers of continued opioid use and the availability of alternative approaches to pain management.

Five contracts of $55,000 each for alternative methods of pain management for older adults will focus on raising awareness of the dangers of painkillers and alternative, safer options.

“We owe it to our older residents to help them explore better, healthier means toward pain management,” Governor Christie said.

In 2015, almost 6,300 of the people who overdosed from opioids were older than 55, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The five contracts, funded through the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State-Targeted Response to Opioid Crisis grant, were awarded to: Center for Prevention and Counseling, Inc. (Newton); Children’s Aid and Family Services (Paramus); NCADD Hudson DBA Partners in Prevention (Secaucus); Prevention Resources (Flemington); and Rowan College at Burlington County (Mt. Laurel).

CCM: Addiction Recovery Volunteer Training Program

County College of Morris, in cooperation with Rebecca Conviser, founder of a Morris County Drug Court collaborative program for the court’s adjudicated offenders, is offering a unique opportunity for volunteers to participate in a newly created “Creative, Positive Expression’’ program.CCM: Addiction Recovery Volunteer Training Program

Creative, Positive Expression offers writing, poetry and art that provides an outlet for participants to develop and tap into new areas of expression, allowing them to work through feelings, past experiences, and barriers to a new life.

The goal of the program is to support sobriety and recovery from addictions that have led participants to sentencing in Drug Court.

CCM logoThe assignment and management of this new program is under the oversight of the Drug Court.

To learn more about the program and the potential of volunteering, start with a Jan. 9 information session, from 6:30-8 p.m., to be held at the County College of Morris in Randolph.

A subsequent one-day, Feb. 3, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., training session will orient potential volunteers to the requirements and areas of study covered in the multi-week course.  (Course AHP-161, Section #28463)

For more information or to register, call 973-328-5000 (ask for continuing adult education) or visit http://www.ccm.edu/wp-content/uploads/cpp/Documents/2018/CpeSpring18.pdf (page 15)

Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like one

Only one in nine people in the United States gets the care and treatment they need for addiction and substance abuse. A former Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli is working to end this epidemic and treat people with addictions with kindness, compassion and fairness.

In a personal, thoughtful talk, he encourages the millions of Americans in recovery today to make their voices heard and confront the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

Governor Christie Announces $1.3 Million State Grant To Launch Nation’s First Certified Alcohol And Drug Counselor Apprenticeship Program

Trenton, NJ – Continuing in his fight against opioid addiction, Governor Chris Christie today announced a statewide expansion of a successful Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors apprenticeship program, the first of its kind in the nation.

Governor Christie was joined by Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) Commissioner Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., and Rutgers President Robert Barchi for the announcement at the Livingston Student Center on the campus of Rutgers University-New Brunswick in Piscataway that the New Jersey Healthcare Talent Development Center (TDC) at Rutgers University will receive $1.3 million to launch the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC) apprenticeship program. The grants are part of a package of initiatives the Governor unveiled in September that commits $200 million to expand the State’s national model programs and services to continue to effectively address New Jersey’s opioid and substance use crisis.

“One of my priorities has been to put more certified alcohol and drug counselors on the ground to tackle the disease of addiction one person at a time,” said Governor Christie. “This successful program creates a pathway for those interested in helping those with substance use disorder through paid on-the-job training. Thank you to Rutgers and President Barchi in seeing this need and partnering with us to provide this crucial training throughout the state.”

The $1.3 million investment will enable Rutgers University to train approximately 200 people in 2018. LWD contributes up to $6,000 per worker, and their employer matches 50 percent of the training cost. The apprenticeship will consist of 270 hours of classroom instruction at Rutgers and 3,100 hours of paid on-the-job training with a participating healthcare employer. Apprentices will learn the science of addiction, counseling techniques, crisis intervention, case management, and addiction recovery while mastering the 45 state-mandated core competencies. This is the first time CADC training is being offered in an earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship program.

Apprentices who successfully complete the program and pass the state certification exam will be qualified to work as Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors in addiction treatment centers, community health centers, hospitals, and other direct care settings in New Jersey. This fills a critical need in the healthcare industry, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

“The statewide expansion of the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors program fills a need for critical jobs in the war against addiction. Offering the training through apprenticeship allows workers to earn-while-they-learn instead of putting off their education, making our workforce more skilled,” said Labor Commissioner Fichtner.

Today’s announcement expands a successful pilot program, announced by Governor Christie in July, in which the New Jersey Department of Labor’s New Jersey Healthcare Talent Development Center at Rutgers is providing CADC training to 10 case managers at Homeless Solutions in Morristown.

The Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors Program is part of the ‘65 by 25: Many Paths, One Future’ initiative that strives to help all New Jerseyans find pathways to employment through training aligned to the needs of employers. The goal is to have 65 percent of the workforce equipped with a college degree or industry-valued credential by 2025. Currently, 50 percent of the workforce meets that criteria.