Posted Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
PROSECUTOR’S “NARCAN 2.0’’ DIRECTIVE OFFERS LONG-TERM HOPE FOR PERSONS SAVED FROM OVERDOSES
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, in concert with an alliance of government, medical, law enforcement, and social service and non-profit agencies, is launching the “Narcan 2.0’’ program, aimed at giving another chance at life to persons who have had recent near-fatal encounters with drug overdoses.
The program officially starts on May 18 when a directive by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp takes effect. It will require every person whose condition has been “reversed’’ in the field, thanks to the administration of the drug Narcan by police officers or first responders, must be counseled by a certified Peer Recovery Specialist.
The directive orders law enforcement officers in Morris County to request that a specialist respond to an emergency room after life-saving Narcan is administered.
“The goal is for the recovery specialist to convince the individual to undergo treatment, which can break the cycle of addiction, and very simply save lives,’’ said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp. “This truly will provide people with a second chance at life.’’
“This new effort offers hope to opiate abusers, giving them another shot at recovery, and gives their families and loved ones some hope about their future,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo.
One of the latest and most effective weapons in the fight against opioid abuse is Narcan, which blocks and counteracts the effects of drug overdoses. Since its introduction in Morris County in 2015, the antidote has been used more than 200 times by county police officers. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) have also utilized lifesaving Narcan numerous times.
After Narcan is administered, patients suffering from overdoses go to hospitals, where they may be stabilized. There have been insufficient subsequent efforts to steer those who are administered Narcan into treatment programs. Too often, individuals leave hospitals and return to drug use, with negative or fatal consequences.
In an effort to combat this deadly cycle and steer those patients to treatment, the new Narcan 2.0 partnership has formed among the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Saint Clare’s Health, Atlantic Health System, the County of Morris, the non-profit Morris CARES and municipal law enforcement agencies.
Peer recovery specialists will be dispatched from CARES to Saint Clare’s Health and Atlantic Health System’s hospitals. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office will devote $10,000 of drug forfeiture money to train the recovery specialists.
“For individuals struggling with addiction – they will have an entire community dedicated to their recovery in their corner,’’ said Brian Finestein, Chief Executive Officer of Saint Clare’s Denville Hospital and Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health centers. “We cannot continue to watch our neighbors endure the cycle of addiction one more time – or worse – see families destroyed or torn apart. We have to do more and Narcan 2.0 is a step in the right direction.”
“Atlantic Health System is dedicated to improving lives and empowering communities through health, hope, and healing. This program is one way we are thinking outside of the walls of the hospital to provide support services to community members on their journeys toward recovery,” said Lori Ann Rizutto, director of Behavioral and Integrative Health Services at Atlantic Health System.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury, who heads the Morris County Drug Enforcement Task Force, said that Peer Recovery Specialists should become an important component of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office strategy in fighting the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic.
“Providing a path for individuals suffering from opiate substance abuse disorders into treatment will save lives and reduce crime by breaking the cycle of addiction,” Seabury said.
The partnership among the Prosecutor’s Office, the health systems and others is in response to the growing opioid epidemic. Opiate overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death having surpassed motor vehicle crashes.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office implemented a countywide Narcan program in 2015, allowing law enforcement officials to carry and deploy Narcan. The antidote effectively provides individuals on the verge of death a second chance.
The “Narcan 2.0,” initiative will build on that foundation.
“Evidence indicates that administering a drug like Narcan to an individual who suffers an opioid overdose is a critical step needed to save a life. However, by itself, it is not nearly enough to accomplish the goal of the connecting the drug abuser with needed treatment or recovery support,” said Melody Runyon, Associate Director for Morris County Prevention is Key.
For more information on the Narcan 2.0 program, contact Public Information Officer Fred Snowflack at (973) 829-8159 or [email protected].