Heroin and prescription drug addiction has reached epidemic proportions in New Jersey. As a result the Mental Health Association in New Jersey has launched a confidential call line dedicated to providing counseling specifically to people and families who are coping with addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers.     

(Ryan McVay, ThinkStock)
(Ryan McVay, ThinkStock)

The helpline is unique because it offers a two-pronged approach, according to Robert Kley, acting president and Chief Operating Officer of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.

"First, it provides trained, professional counselors who can help someone who is in personal agony over their use of heroin or prescription painkillers and is starting to look toward seeking treatment. We can help them be referred to treatment. The second component provides peer counselors, family members who have had experience with addiction, who understand the unique and complex effect it can have on personal relationships," he said. "The families are always neglected in these situations. They often don't know where to turn, where to get information or how they can best help their loved one."

According to a report published by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, heroin was the primary drug in 35 percent (26,794) of substance abuse treatment admissions in 2013, and 9 percent, or 6,651, were attributed to other opiates. Other facts about opiate addiction in New Jersey include the following:

  • There were 1,320 drug-related deaths in New Jersey in 2013, 559 were positive for heroin and 183 were positive for morphine, according to the New Jersey Medical Examiner's Office.
  • In 2012 there were more than 8,300 admissions to state-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse, an increase of more than 200 percent over the past five years, and nearly 700 percent over the past decade.
  • Forty percent of opiate admissions for treatment involved persons 25 years old or younger, according to a 2014 report by the Governor's Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse.

"The call line also is supported by the entire Mental Health Association's call center which is a 24/7 helpline that provides referrals for a wide variety of behavioral health services. It's also a state suicide prevention line and it provides other kinds of peer support services," Kley said.  "So it allows the person in need access to all the services the Mental Health Association has to offer."

NJ Connect for Recovery is a public/private partnership and is the result of a collaboration between the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office and a sponsor, Actavis, plc.

The toll free phone number for NJ Connect for Recovery is 855-652-3737.

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