Even as concerns about COVID continue to diminish and many facets of life are returning to normal, drug overdose deaths in New Jersey remain a significant concern.

Last year in the Garden State, there were 3,124 suspected opioid overdose deaths, the highest total on record.

According to New Jersey Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who heads the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, new grants are being awarded in 9 counties to establish Community Peer Recovery Centers.

Supporting the individual

She said these locations provide a safe space where individuals recovering from substance use disorder can receive information about treatment as well as a variety of recovery support services, including nutrition, wellness, self-care, dealing with stress, financial management, job skills and parenting.

“It’s important that individuals are receiving supportive services and information in terms of how to manage all of those many areas in their lives," she said.

Supportive therapist comforting a young man who lost his parents in group therapy for people in mourning

She noted the services at the recovery centers are provided by individuals who have lived experience and people who have a history of addiction themselves.

Mielke pointed out that while a recovery center does not offer actual drug treatment, “it gives individuals who are either considering or beginning to embark on the journey of recovery hope that recovery is possible.”

She stressed support groups and services, as well as drugs that help those struggling with opioid abuse to break free from their addiction are all important.

Many opportunities

Mielke said New Jersey “makes available many different opportunities for people to begin to understand the disease of addiction and understand what that recovery journey can look like for them.

Anyone impacted by addiction can call 1-844-REACH-NJ.

There are 10 counties that have already received this funding. The new grants have been awarded to the following organizations:

• Burlington – County of Burlington
• Camden – Center for Family Services
• Cape May – Cape Regional Medical Center
• Hudson – Prevention Links
• Hunterdon – Prevention Resources
• Middlesex - Prevention Links
• Monmouth - Prevention Resources
• Ocean – Hope Sheds Light
• Somerset – Community in Crisis Inc.

Each organization will receive a $100,000 grant for start-up funding to cover staff, office space, supplies and equipment such as vehicles, laptop computers and cell phones.

The grants are funded with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration State Opioid Response to Grants funding.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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