Earlier this summer, the New Jersey Department of Human Services handed out 32,000 free doses of naloxone at 174 pharmacies across the state.

Now, DHS is handing out more free naloxone — the anti-opioid-overdose drug more commonly known by the brand name Narcan — at three-dozen homeless shelters.

Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said this is part of an effort to make sure “individuals who may encounter those who have opioid abuse disorder and are vulnerable to overdose have naloxone available to be able to save a life.”

She said about 1,200 doses of the nasal spray form of naloxone are being distributed to shelter staff members, so they will be able to administer the opioid overdose antidote drug in case it’s needed.

So why the handout to shelters?

Johnson said after the naloxone giveaway back in June, “as we thought about other places where we thought it would be important to ensure naloxone was available, the homeless shelter network that we work with seemed like the logical place.”

She stressed DHS wants to get nalaxone "into the hands of as many people as possible, because it is clear the way to help save a life is to have this life-saving tool available and within reach of as many residents of our state as we can.”

“We are getting naloxone to as many people as possible, and then we are working incredibly hard to make sure people get connected to treatment," she said.

She said moving forward other groups and organization may also be given free naloxone.

“We’re continuing to think through where are those critical points where it would be helpful for us to continue to make it available and we’re going to continue to try and do that.”

Johnson added there are people all across our state who are living in recovery.

"Recovery is possible, treatment works and we need to get people there," she said.

Toward that end, she said, a special 24-7 hotline has been created — 1-844-REACH-NJ — to help get people into drug treatment.

According to the commissioner, the Department of Human Services has spent about $2 million over the past year on a variety of naloxone distributions all over the state.

The participating shelters are:

  • Atlantic City Rescue Mission
  • Bergen County Family Shelter
  • Center for Hope and Safety in Bergen County
  • Bergen County Community Action Program Adult Center
  • Providence House – Catholic Charities in Burlington County
  • Belmont Homes in Burlington County
  • Aletha Wright Venter in Camden County
  • Joseph’s House in Camden County
  • Anna M. Sample House in Camden County
  • Cumberland County Women’s Center (Center for Family Services)
  • Real House I in Essex County
  • Real House II in Essex County
  • Circle of Life in Essex County
  • Apostle’s House in Essex County
  • Center for Family Services (Mother/Child Residential SERV CFS) in Gloucester County
  • SERV Gloucester County Women’s Services
  • Eleanor Corbett House in Gloucester County
  • Trenton Treatment/UPI in Mercer County
  • Rescue Mission of Trenton in Mercer County
  • Amani House in Mercer County
  • Ozanam Men’s Shelter in Middlesex County
  • Ozanam Family Shelter (Catholic Charities) in Middlesex County
  • Monmouth Adult Shelter - Affordable Housing Alliance of Monmouth County
  • 180 Turning Lives Around in Monmouth County
  • Homeless Solutions of Morris County
  • Providence House – Catholic Charities, Ocean County
  • St. Peter’s Haven in Passaic County
  • St. Paul’s Community Center in Passaic County
  • Salem County’s Women’s Services in Salem County
  • Safe and Sound in Somerset County
  • Agape House in Somerset County
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (Family Promise) of Sussex County
  • Domestic Abuse Services Inc. of Sussex County
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (Family Promise) of Union County
  • Domestic Abuse and Rape Crisis Center in Warren County; an
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (Family Promise) of Union County.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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