Toms River officials will create an opioid response team which will operate 24 hours a day, following the reception of a state grant and approval by the township council.
Ocean County has been arguably the hardest-hit area of New Jersey in the opiate addiction epidemic sweeping the state. Toms River received $149,999 from the state to create the program, which is serving as a pilot. It is also being deployed in Newark, Camden, Paterson and Trenton.
According to the office of state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, the opioid response teams will provide around-the-clock crisis intervention for individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Toms River was chosen to receive the grant funding, which flows from a federal grant provided to the state, following a “data-driven analysis of the impact of the opioid epidemic across all New Jersey municipalities,” Grewal’s office said.
“We know that the minutes and hours after an overdose, an arrest, or another drug-related crisis offer drug users an important opportunity to get the help they need to turn their lives around,” said Grewal. “These Opioid Response Teams will be trained to spring into action at a moment’s notice, day or night, to ensure that drug users experiencing a crisis know that the door to treatment and recovery support services is always open.”
Toms River’s response team will include at least one representative from the township police department and from the EMS service, as well as a Substance Abuse Recovery Advocate. They will be called to assist individuals at the scene of an overdose, in a hospital following an overdose, at a police station following an opioid-related arrest, or during calls for service in which someone is under the influence of opioids. Team members trained in de-escalation techniques and how to interact with individuals with opioid addiction issues will provide individuals with on-scene support, information, and/or referrals to treatment and recovery programs, officials say.
The funding is for a 19-month period that runs from Oct. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021.
Funding for the response team subgrants comes from a grant the state Department of Law & Public Safety received from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The subgrants to the municipalities will cover the costs associated with the implementation of the response team program, which could include hiring an Opioid Response Team Coordinator, paying for on-call substance abuse advocates, transportation expenses, and the production of informational palm cards and business cards in various languages, “depending on community need.”