New Jersey Human Services invests $7.87M in opioid efforts

New Jersey Human Services is doling out new funds to clamp down the opioid epidemic, funding county innovation awards, furthering the distribution of overdose antidote naloxone, and launching a new public awareness campaign.

Of the $7.87 million being invested into combating the opioid epidemic, approximately $1.67 million will be presented in the form of innovation awards. That money will be split up between 12 counties to fund innovative local projects targeting opioid use disorder, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Additional funding will provide more than 53,000 free doses of naloxone — better known as Narcan — to 424 police departments throughout New Jersey, as well as 400 free doses to the staff of various public libraries.

While additional innovation awards are expected in the future, the free naloxone will consist of one two-dose pack for each full-time sworn officer in selected departments and two, two-dose packs for each of 100 libraries.

The bulk of the money will go toward a new public awareness campaign, though. In all, $4 million will support a 24 hour-a-day, seven days-per-week hotline meant to connect the addicted with treatment.

“We also upgraded our 1-844-ReachNJ addiction treatment hotline to ensure immediate connection to addiction counselors, and redesigned our messaging to reflect the input of individuals in recovery and families of individuals with addiction,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “We believe community voices and actions are essential to fighting this epidemic, and today we’re demonstrating that through our investment in local solutions. Treatment works and recovery is possible, and the goal of the Murphy Administration is to save lives.”

The public awareness campaign surrounding that hotline will consist of local TV and radio, social media and print ads, highway billboards, as well as posters in various public locations.