Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose

A New Jersey program immediately connects people to treatment after they have been revived from an opioid overdose with naloxone. Recovery specialists are contacted by hospitals participating in the program once an opioid overdose call has been dispatched.

The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program is run by Barnabas Health in two New Jersey counties with high opioid overdose death rates, CBS News reports. The program works with law enforcement and healthcare providers, including five hospitals. Grant funding is provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Since the program began three months ago, there have been 135 overdoses in Ocean and Monmouth counties, of which 30 were fatal. According to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, about half of those revived with naloxone have agreed to go into treatment this year. Previously, almost no one who was revived with naloxone agreed to go into treatment, the article notes.

Angela Cicchino, a Barnabas recovery specialist who is in recovery herself, tries to get people into treatment immediately after they have been revived with naloxone. “That’s why this program is so special – the empathy we bring, we represent the hope that they can get out of the addiction,” she said.

“The more that opioids are used to treat pain, the more is there an increase in pain,” said Connie Greene, Vice President of the Barnabas Health Center for Prevention. “The pills and medication is [sic] very expensive, and heroin is very cheap, so we’re looking at a population that’s addicted because of pain medication and a population that’s addicted because of street drugs.” She notes that people are self-prescribing opioids to treat their pain. “We as a hospital system, we need to look at other methods of dealing with pain,” Greene said.

More than 600 people died of heroin-related overdoses in New Jersey in 2014, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office.

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    Betsy Duncan

    May 24, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    Several counties in the SW region of PA have implemented the same program within their local community hospitals. Results have been very positive. Not every overdose survivor wishes to immediately engage in treatment services, but the seed has been planted. The recovery specialist becomes a supportive pathway to recovery that didn’t previously exist. We are very pleased to have these services available!

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