NJAMHAA Promotes Recovery from Substance Use Disorders during National Recovery Month

September 6, 2016

Prosecutors throughout New Jersey are reeling from the overwhelming numbers of opioid overdose victims. A particularly striking example of this crisis occurred late last month, when news outlets around New Jersey reported on a string of overdoses from an even more harmful kind of heroin stamped with a "Batman" label. According to the Star Ledger, Cooper University Health Care ambulances in Camden treated 49 people, all of whom have been revived with naloxone, in less than a week.

Because this and other incidents are stark proof that addiction to opioids continues to ravage our state and the country, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) is supporting National Recovery Month this September. NJAMHAA is a statewide trade association representing 160 organizations that serve New Jersey residents with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, and their families. National Recovery Month is an annual initiative of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and was established to "increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover," according to its website, www.recoverymonth.gov.

According to the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services' (DMHAS') statistics for 2014, heroin and other opioids combined resulted in 49% of substance use treatment admissions in the state. The New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice statistics indicate that in 2014, 781 New Jersey residents died from heroin overdoses; a total of 5,217 died between 2004 and 2014. In Camden, Ocean, Cape May, Union, and Middlesex counties, the death rate from heroin abuse exceeds the rate of available beds at treatment facilities.

In its advocacy efforts, NJAMHAA urges federal and state legislators to keep improving access to substance abuse treatment and recovery services as a priority. On August 31, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that New Jersey will receive $26 million in federal grants to combat opioid abuse through training for first responders, data collection and analysis, and education efforts. Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA, has stated: "NJAMHAA is thankful to the Department of Health and Human Services for assisting our state in fighting the opioid crisis. As communities around New Jersey are faced with increasing rates of addiction and overdose, the recently announced federal funding will go a long way toward battling this epidemic."

Every day, NJAMHAA member agencies treat those who suffer from addiction, providing hope and healing to people in crisis. Barbara Schlichting, the Executive Director of NJAMHAA member Somerset Treatment Services, offers words of encouragement to patients who engage in substance use treatment: "It is most important to remember to honor all of the hard work individuals undertake to achieve recovery from substance abuse, especially at this time of overwhelming opiate accessibility and abuse. Attaining recovery is very challenging, and individuals and families need both support and access to treatment resources to help them reach their goals of living healthy, productive lives."

NJAMHAA encourages residents to take advantage of the resources available through the National Recovery Month website, and to seek treatment if they are battling addiction. To find agencies within the state that offer treatment for substance use disorders, residents can call the New Jersey Addiction Services hotline at 1-844-276-2777 or visit NJAMHAA's website at www.njamhaa.org.

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