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Christie Touts New Monmouth Medical Center Program For Overdose Victims

LONG BRANCH: A new Monmouth Medical Center program aimed at helping overdose victims after they have been saved with the help of Narcan has received the governor's seal of approval.

"This is an issue that affects all across the state," Governor Chris Christie said during a March 22 press conference at the Long Branch hospital. "The idea of recovery coaches is an idea that our administration came up with."

The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program ("Recovery Coaches") is a program funded through the Department of Human Services' Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA). The initiative utilizes Recovery Coaches and Patient Navigators, many of whom are in long-term addiction recovery, to engage individuals reversed from an opioid overdose, providing non-clinical assistance, recovery support, appropriate referrals for assessment and treatment, and recovery follow-up.

DMHAS, GCADA and DCF are providing total annualized funding of $1,023,000 for services to be provided over two years in four hard hit areas. Contracts in the amount of $255,750 each were awarded in Camden, Essex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Passaic Counties to Center for Family Services, Turning Point, Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention, and Eva's Village, respectively. With the expansion in December into Eva's Village in Passaic, the Governor has committed a total of $1.3 million to the program.

"It's very, very successful," Christie said. "This is advice and counseling and help that comes from people who have been exactly where these folks are. And there's no way to substitute that."

Governor Christie's Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes an allocation of $1.7 million to expand the program into six more counties, for a total of 11 counties and $3 million.

"We know that these programs can work and work exceptionally well," Christie said.

The Narcan program was launched statewide in 2014 and since that time, it has been administered more than 8,000 times.

"That's 8,000 lives that have been saved and that's an extraordinary thing," Christie said.

Read more from: Long Branch

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