MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office partnerships with Morris CARES, Atlantic Health, and Saint Clare’s Health in the implementation of “Narcan 2.0”, has had great success in the past seven months. Since the inception of the program in May of last year, the newly created Addiction Recovery Response Team is already producing positive results in the fight against the heroin epidemic.
On May 18th, 2017, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office launched the “Narcan 2.0” program. Morris County Prosecutor, Fredric M. Knapp, worked with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, local law enforcement, medical, and social service agencies to enact this program. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office provided Morris Cares with a check for $10,000, to provide training to Peer Recovery Specialists. These funds were obtained from civil forfeiture proceedings against drug dealers.
The program requires every person who has suffered from a drug overdose, and has had their condition “reversed” in the field due to the administration of the drug Narcan, by police officers, to be counseled by a certified Peer Recovery Specialist. The aim is to provide the survivor with a meaningful second chance and to navigate them into treatment to break the cycle of addiction.
Before the Peer Recovery Specialists are allowed to work with anyone, they have to pass an exam and training course through Morris CARES. Morris CARES is a non-profit, recovery oriented sanctuary, based in Rockaway, NJ that works to change the lives of those suffering from a substance abuse disorder. Their focus on utilizing peer support throughout the community works hand in hand with the goal of “Narcan 2.0”.
“Narcan 2.0 is proving to be an overwhelmingly successful response to the opiate epidemic. The project allows for individuals who have been reversed from an opiate overdose to receive recovery support from a trained Peer Recovery Specialist. The Peer Recovery Specialist is a person in recovery who uses his or her lived experience with addiction to help an overdose survivor find and maintain a path of recovery,” said Melody Runyan, Associate Director of Morris CARES.
The Peer Recovery Specialists utilize their own experiences as an attempt to break the vicious cycle of addiction. Their first-hand knowledge allows the victims to feel more comfortable in their recovery, knowing that the person across from them has been where they are right now.
Out of the 83 times that Narcan was administered in Morris County by law enforcement officers since the implementation of “Narcan 2.0” seven months ago, 59 of those victims accepted the services of the Addiction Recovery Response Team. That comes out to a starting success rate of 71.08%.
Of the 59 overdose victims that were willing to accept these services, 59% of them utilized the peer support program, 17% were sent to a detox program, 15% were sent to an inpatient program, and 9% utilized an outpatient program.
The personal testimonies from the individuals who have taken advantage of “Narcan 2.0”, prove just how much of a difference having a follow-up to the “reversal” of the overdose makes.
For example, a confidential patient, overdosed and ended up on life support at St. Clare’s Dover, and expressed his interest in the Peer Support program. Following his release, he did not keep in contact with his Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, and eventually relapsed. Once he decided to reach out to his Peer Recovery Specialist again, they were able to get him into a Detox and Inpatient program the same day, ultimately saving his life. This individual has expressed his enormous gratitude for the program, and he’s just one of the many success stories that “Narcan 2.0” has created thus far.
The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to affect lives across Morris County, where at least 79 people died in 2017 from an opiate overdose. Programs such as “Narcan 2.0” attempt to utilize recovery as the main tool in saving those suffering from substance abuse disorder. If the vicious cycle of addiction can be broken, progress will be made. To assist law enforcement first responders, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, very recently provided additional Narcan supplies for all participating Morris County police departments on December 12, 2017.
Prosecutor Knapp commented on the positive effect to date, “We are very encouraged by the positive impact “Narcan 2.0” has had so far. Law enforcement partnership with the treatment community is enabling the “Narcan 2.0” program to save lives. Being a “Stigma Free” County helps those suffering from substance abuse disorder to break away from this horrific disease.”