OCEAN GATE – People needing help with drug addiction can now go to the Ocean Gate Police Department and be placed with an addiction treatment center.
The borough is the latest in a series of departments to take part in the Blue HART (Heroin Addiction Recovery Treatment) program. This began in January, under the name HARP (Heroin Addiction Response Program). It allows users to turn themselves in, and hand over any drugs they have, without any threat of charges or jail.
Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, said that a lot of departments are showing interest in joining the program, such as Toms River, Jackson and Point Pleasant. It’s just a matter of finding addiction centers that can take in the additional people.
“As we secure more beds and more help from treatment centers, we’ll expand,” he said. “We can’t do a total roll-out to all departments.”
Ocean Gate’s first day with the program was Monday, police said. Lacey had a soft opening with the program in June and then officially began it recently, collaborating with Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville, officials said. Stafford works with Ocean Mental Health. Brick works with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood. Manchester works with Integrity House in Toms River.
The days where someone can go for help are as follows:
- Monday: Lacey (808 Lacey Rd.) and Ocean Gate (801 Ocean Gate Ave.)
- Tuesday: Stafford (260 E Bay Ave.)
- Wednesday: Manchester (1 Colonial Dr.)
- Thursday: Brick (401 Chambers Bridge Rd.)
In dealing with the opiate epidemic, the police were already using Narcan, a chemical nasal spray that has proven to reverse the effects of a potential overdose. They also have a Recovery Coach Program, where a social worker visits an addict in recovery and shows them how to get help. The Blue HART is designed to prevent overdoses before they happen.
Anyone can come into the participating departments and request help with their addiction. Officers can also encourage people they see outside of the department to come in and voluntarily apply for the program. After the person is screened, they are put in contact with an addiction treatment program. The person will not be charged for drug offenses if they voluntarily come looking for help.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato stated said the program is already successful.
“I applaud the participating police departments proactive efforts and eagerness to help those in their communities fight this tragic epidemic,” he said in a press release. “Since January, “Blue HART” has helped over 200 individuals to successfully fight the curse of addiction. I cannot thank enough Behavioral Health, Integrity House and Ocean Mental Health for their generous commitment to the people of Ocean County in making our vision a reality. Our county leads the state in providing lifesaving options to those fighting and seeking addiction help.”