Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced today that the drug treatment program that allows people to walk off the street and into a police station to seek help with addiction will expand to Pemberton Township later this month.
The Straight … to Treatment program is scheduled to start on September 25, and will operate every Tuesday at Pemberton Township Police Department, in conjunction with Solstice Counseling, from noon to 6 p.m.
The pilot program was launched earlier this year in Evesham Township, and currently operates at the Evesham Township Police Department on Mondays from noon to 7 p.m.
“We have seen this program utilized by those caught in the grip of substance abuse, but who want to break free from their addiction,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “We are very excited to expand the opportunity to seek treatment through this program into Pemberton Township, and I am grateful to Chief David Jantas, the entire Pemberton Township Police Department and Solstice Counseling for partnering with our Office to make it happen.”
Statistics concerning overdoses reveal that the message of hope is needed in Pemberton Township. From January 1 through August 31 of this year, law enforcement and EMS used naloxone 48 times to reverse overdoses and save lives in Browns Mills alone. That eight-month tally exceeds the total number of 42 Narcan reversals in Pemberton Township for the entire year of 2017, and is nine above the next highest municipality in our county.
A community forum sponsored by the BCPO and held recently at the Friendship AME Church in Browns Mills drew more than 150 people who were interested hearing stories of those in successful long-term recovery, and also discussing ways to expand treatment options.
“Pemberton Township is pleased to become a partner in the Prosecutor’s Straight…to Treatment program,” Pemberton Township Police Chief David Jantas said. “We hope that those who are in need of help will take advantage of this opportunity rather than continue down the road of addiction. People suffering from this epidemic now have a choice.”
Straight … to Treatment will allow drug users to come to the Pemberton Township Police Department and be connected with a program to assist them in overcoming their addiction. Participants can also safely turn in any drugs or drug paraphernalia in their possession and not be charged with a drug possession offense.
The initiative is similar to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office’s Blue HART (Heroin Addiction Recovery Treatment) program, which was initiated by Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato in early 2017 and has been successful at connecting addicts with treatment.
Straight … to Treatment stresses the concept of making sure that help is available at the moment someone has decided to seek assistance.
Pemberton Township is the second municipality in Burlington County to offer the program. Since it debuted in Evesham in late March, 52 people have been referred to treatment programs by Oaks Integrated Care, which is a partner in the Evesham venture.
The hope is to expand it further throughout the county, which has seen the number of fatal overdoses continue to rise over the last several years. In 2017, Burlington County experienced 141 overdose deaths. According to the Attorney General’s NJ CARES web site, there have been 103 suspected fatal overdoses in Burlington County in 2018.
The process of finding treatment for those who come forward in Pemberton will be handled by Solstice Counseling, which will be on call to meet in person with those who request help for addiction. Solstice, which offers treatment for substance abuse and also provides other services, will work to find an appropriate treatment opportunity for all who come forward, including those without the resources to seek it on their own.
Solstice Clinical Director David Borek said the organization is eager to spread the word that “recovery is possible.”
“Solstice Counseling just moved to Pemberton and is proud to be part of launching the Straight … to Treatment program in our new community,” Borek said. “We welcome the chance to help people who are directly affected by the devastating impacts of the opioid crisis. We’ve been providing effective treatment for individuals and families since 2013, and we know recovery is attainable. We hope that being part of the Straight to Treatment program will allow us to reach and support those in need throughout the community, and that we can show people that hope is not lost, and they are not alone.”