NJ Human Services Tackles State’s Substance Use Disorder Epidemic


The New Jersey Department of Human Services last week awarded additional contracts to help mental health and substance use disorder programs provide medication to support addiction recovery in NJ.

“Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment is key in Human Services’ commitment to end the opioid crisis in New Jersey and ultimately save lives,” said Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “Helping mental health and substance use disorder programs build capacity will mean more of our most vulnerable residents will have access to medication proven to be effective in helping overcome co-occurring substance use disorder. This ensures more New Jerseyans can lead self-directed lives and experience recovery.”

The $150,000 program is funded through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s State Opioid Response grants. Services are expected to begin at the end of this month (May 2022).

Funds will be used to ensure substance use disorder providers are able to prescribe and dispense substance use disorder medications such as buprenorphine, naloxone and naltrexone, methadone, and acamprosate. Funds may also be used to recruit additional medical staff and purchase medical equipment.

“Increasing access to treatment and reducing unmet treatment needs are pivotal in reducing opioid overdose-related deaths and creating a New Jersey where all can have access to life-saving treatment. Recovery is always possible, and we are here to help those in need start this journey,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who directs the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that will oversee the initiative.

Contracts were awarded to New Hope Integrated Behavioral Healthcare and Maryville Addiction Treatment Center. Each provider will receive a $75,000 award.

In March, NJ Human Services awarded $300,000 in contracts to Center for Family Services in Atlantic County and Oaks Integrated Care in Burlington, Camden, and Mercer counties. Funds were once more directed towards ensuring the providers’ ability to prescribe substance abuse medications.

Recently, NJ Human Services expanded its mental health intervention programs in all 21 NJ counties, awarded grants to 19 counties to create additional addiction recovery centers, and awarded a contract to provide cultural competency training for opioid treatment providers to reduce the treatment gap experienced by Black residents.

“I continue to urge anyone struggling with substance use disorder to call 1-844-ReachNJ; a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week helpline. A path to recovery is possible and help is always available. Please don’t hesitate to call,” Commissioner Adelman said.

“Maintaining mental health is crucial along the journey to recovery. For those in need of mental health support, please reach out for help through Human Services’ help hotlines,” Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke said.

Incentive Program Aims to Curb Stimulant Use Disorder - Aimed towards those who struggle with Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamines.

Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman also announced last week that the Department has awarded contracts to develop a new incentive program to help those with stimulant use disorder.

The awarded contracts create a program based on the principles of contingency management, which is a cognitive-behavioral approach shown to be effective for substance use disorders that do not respond to typical therapies or medication.

Under the $2 million pilot program, five treatment centers were awarded contracts to develop contingency management programs for stimulant use disorder. The programs will feature gift cards as an incentive for individuals who successfully engage in recovery-oriented, goal-based activities during 16 weeks of treatment.

The program is funded with The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant money.

The goals of the program are designed to be recovery-oriented and focus on being able to provide stimulant-free urine samples (detox) and attending treatment sessions (therapy).

“The use of motivational incentives is a powerful intervention shown to improve engagement, increase abstinence and enhance overall recovery in substance abuse treatment,” said Commissioner Adelman. “It provides immediate positive reinforcement, and studies have shown it can lead to improved patient retention and outcomes. Stimulant use is rising, and illicit stimulants have evolved to be cheaper and more potent. Illicit stimulant use results in damage to the cardiovascular system and causes lung and brain disease, stroke, and death. We need to be innovative in how we approach this public health concern – and save lives.”

The Office of National Drug Control Policy Director (ONDCP) recently released a plan to address the rise of methamphetamine use, as overdose deaths from methamphetamine nearly tripled in three years (2016-2019).

From 2016 to 2019, cocaine hospital admissions increased from 11,070 to 15,691, crack cocaine admissions increased from 5,785 to 9,890, and methamphetamine admissions increased from 590 to 2,456.

“Individuals with substance use disorder may mix use of stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, with opioids that are laced with fentanyl, which places them at high risk of overdoses,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who leads the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that is overseeing the incentive program. “However, many who only take stimulants may not know that these drugs can also contain fentanyl and that their use can result in fatal overdoses. Treating addiction to stimulants is critical but also challenging. Unlike opioids, there is no FDA-approved medication available for stimulant use disorders, so we face clinical challenges. However, there are behavioral strategies that work when it comes to helping individuals reduce or discontinue stimulant use. As noted in the ONDCP report, this includes contingency management, as we’re trying here with this pilot program.”

Program participants must be at least 18 years old, have a stimulant use disorder, and have an interest in participating in this pilot program.

The agencies awarded contracts include Maryville Addiction Treatment Center, Oaks Integrated Care, Integrity, Care Plus Bergen, and John Brooks Recovery Center.

As part of the program, the five agencies must serve a certain number of clients per year and comply with program evaluations by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“We’re pleased to be able to develop another approach for those in need and to support recovery,” Commissioner Adelman said. “I continue to urge anyone needing help with substance use disorder of any kind to call 1-844-ReachNJ. Help is always available. Please don’t hesitate to call.”

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