Ocean County Performs “Social Autopsy” To Assess & Combat Addiction

Ocean County Health Department
Ocean County Health Department (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

  OCEAN COUNTY – The Ocean County Health Department recently released the results of the 2018 annual report by the Ocean County Overdose Fatality Review Pilot Program (OC-OFRPP).

  The OC-OFRPP is meant to perform a “social autopsy” of the community by examining a person’s collective history in order to better understand their substance abuse disorder and overdose.

  It is the goal of the OCHD to “empower county agencies and health providers to develop new programming and change policy that can lead to reduced numbers of addiction and overdose deaths in Ocean County” with this program.

  “With the OCHD acting as the lead agency, the Overdose Fatality Review Pilot Program is a collaborative effort that includes cooperation and resources from numerous agencies including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas of New York/New Jersey, the New Jersey Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Additionally, we are forever grateful for all the time and effort by all the private partners and entities and their dedicated involvement with the program,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD).

File Photo

  The “social autopsy” reviewed 58 cases in 2018 of individuals ages 18 to 67; 66 percent male, 34 percent female.

  “We are calling it a social autopsy because we are studying each decedent’s profile to learn how such things as when drug use began, medical background, family issues, criminal history and environment. There is so much beneficial information that ultimately will drive new program development, changes in policy, and increased access to prevention, treatment and recovery,” said Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator.

  The report also found:

  • 66 percent were reported to have poor health.
  • 57 percent were linked to substance abuse treatment
  • 57 percent had a known criminal history
  • 22 percent had been convicted of DUI
  • 55 percent were known IV users
  • 52 percent diagnosed or linked to mental health

  The information gathered from the OC-OFRPP will eventually be incorporated into a comprehensive county opioid report that will provide specific details on cases associated with abuse and overdose in Ocean County.

  “Information can now be used for providers in our communities to have open and honest conversations about the gaps and barriers within the system, and now how to fix those issues. The ultimate objective is to have another tool in our kit to try and save as many lives as possible from addiction and overdose,” said Kimberly L. Reilly, OCHD Chief of Administrative Services.

  You can find more information on the Ocean County Overdose Fatality Review Pilot Program at ochd.org.