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Providers, families learn how to reverse overdoses, get kits
TRENTON – The Christie Administration has launched a pilot program that trains people on how to administer Naloxone (also called Narcan), an antidote used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The training was coordinated by the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services for providers of addiction treatment, and friends and families of individuals with addiction disorders. “Naloxone already has saved dozens of lives in New Jersey, people who otherwise likely would have died,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez, noting that in June, Governor Christie gave authorization to law enforcement agencies and emergency responders statewide to administer the overdose antidote. “It is right that others who work with, live with or associate with people who are addicted to opiates have the know-how to save a life, as well.”

The Department’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) currently is rolling out its Opioid Overdose Prevention pilot program in the counties most impacted by heroin overdoses (Camden, Atlantic, Ocean, Monmouth, and Essex) to provide education and training to lay-people responding to an opiate overdose, and to distribute naloxone in intranasal or injectable form to those who are trained. Kits containing the naloxone antidote are being distributed to attendees at the training sessions.

Between 40 and 50 people – all friends or loved ones of people who abuse heroin – attended a training Tuesday night by JSAS Healthcare at the Lacey United Methodist Church. Participants learned how to administer the antidote and perform rescue breathing.

“Time is of the essence in an overdose situation and often people addicted to heroin are near or with their friends and family when they overdose. This program allows for the quickest response and intervention possible,” Velez said, adding that the pilot program is another example of the Christie Administration’s commitment to helping people with substance abuse disorders and his belief that every life has value.

Four agencies are contracted with DHS to conduct the training sessions.  Annual contracts will be executed following a formal RFP process. Trainings began in September at JSAS Healthcare, Inc. located in Neptune. The agency will manage trainings in both Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Naloxone does not always reverse an overdose, depending on the potency and amount of heroin ingested.

In addition to saving lives, DMHAS hopes that the training will also serve as an opportunity to link people to treatment.  JSAS is offering participants vouchers for 30 days of free treatment – for themselves or to give away – and the other providers are making naloxone reversal a priority in treatment admissions.

Other trainings soon will be scheduled by the other contract recipients, including: John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic City, The Lennard Clinic in Newark, and Urban Treatment Associates in Camden.

The link below, which is on the DMHAS website, provides information regarding opioid overdose prevention and the naloxone training:

DMHAS will be supplementing this link with additional information as the licensed Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) continue to schedule and conduct trainings in their respective counties.

The Overdose Prevention Pilot program is particularly important to individuals who are at risk of an opioid overdose and their family, friends or loved ones. While this effort currently is limited to the counties where the most overdoses have been reported, anyone in the state is permitted to attend the trainings and receive naloxone kits.

Individuals must complete the training to receive a kit. Kits contain two doses of the naloxone medication, two nasal atomizer syringes, along with two mouth shields.

In addition to the Overdose Prevention Pilot program, DHS also has been working to promote the Overdose Prevention Act that grants immunity, in most cases, to people who report witnessing an overdose.

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