SAYREVILLE – Due to the increasing opioid epidemic that has plagued the State of New Jersey, the Sayreville Police Department has partnered with SOBA College Recovery from New Brunswick and Woodbridge to assist victims and their families struggling with addiction and its effects.
“The unfortunate reality is drug overdoses are on the rise in our community, coupled with the use of the cutting agent Fentanyl, we are likely to see more and more tragedies,” Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski said in a prepared statement. “We are also very concerned about the risk of exposure to Fentanyl for our officers who are responding to so many overdoses.
In 2014, the Sayreville Police Department began equipping officers with naloxone. Because law enforcement officers often arrive on the scene of an overdose before emergency medical personnel, they can be in a position to save the life of a patient who is experiencing an overdose, according to the statement. The Narcan nasal spray is easy for officers to administer to an overdose victim.
“The overdose reversal drug the officers are carrying is simple to administer and safe for the victim,” Zebrowski said. “Its active ingredients target only the opioid drugs in the system.”
The Sayreville Police Department has joined forces with the Township of Woodbridge to take advantage of the specialized services offered by SOBA. Woodbridge mirrored its program after New Jersey’s Opioid Overdose Recovery Program, which is designed for individuals whose initial reaction to an opioid overdose was reversed after being administered Narcan and then subsequently treated at a local hospital emergency room, according to the statement. The program aims to break through the heroin and prescription opiate abuse epidemic by using people with drug-use experience to connect with those struggling with addiction as they recover from an overdose in the emergency room.
Anytime officers respond to a call and administer Narcan, dispatchers will contact SOBA, who sends a coach to meet the victim at the hospital, according to the statement. The goal is to encourage the person to willingly enter a detox or treatment program to help them end his/her addiction. The coaches follow up for a minimum of eight weeks to see if they can assist with other issues, such as getting him/her connected to recovery houses, intensive outpatient programs or county social services.
Arrangements have been made with JFK Medical Center in Edison, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, University Hospital in Rahway and Raritan Bay Medical Centers in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, to allow authorized coaches’ access to Borough residents admitted to those hospitals with an overdose or any other addiction issue.
Equally important through its association with SOBA, the Sayreville Police Department has established a grassroots community outreach program for anyone who wishes to obtain help for their heroin or opioid addiction, as well as, providing valuable resources to their family members.
According to Zebrowski, “It is absolutely necessary to take a multi-tiered approach and join in public and private partnerships to get individuals the professional help they need to address their addiction and find a way to curtail this epidemic.”
The partnership with SOBA began in early July and since that time the Sayreville Police Department has responded to 19 overdoses of which three resulted in fatalities. The 16 survivors were all referred to SOBA for follow-up assistance.