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Congressman Smith announces $2 million grant to fight addictions

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More federal funding to combat opioid addiction and other addictions in Monmouth and Ocean counties has been announced by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).

“This grant funding comes at a crucial time for people who are recovering from addictions or facing mental illness in the Ocean County and Monmouth County areas,” Smith said.

“The isolation that can come with social distancing, quarantining and the closing of many mental health services offices caused by the COVID-19 outbreak can further jeopardize their recovery.

“There is grave concern that substance abuse can increase during a pandemic and these funds will enable local mental health organizations to reach out in alternate ways and help people,” he said.

A $2 million Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service (MHSAS) grant was awarded to Eatontown-based CPC Behavioral Heathcare on April 27, according to a press release from Smith’s office.

“CPC Behavioral Healthcare is grateful to be recognized … for our work in delivering integrated substance use and mental health services to the individuals we serve,” said Vera Sansone, president and CEO of CPC Behavioral Healthcare, which will use the grant to pay for its expanded services through April 2022.

“This new grant funding will allow us to continue our expansion of … services in western Monmouth County and northern Ocean County. We thank Congressman Smith for his tireless and ongoing support of these vital behavioral health services in our communities,” Sansone said.

The funding follows a $200,000 MHSAS grant that was awarded to CFC Loud N Clear Foundation in Howell in March, according to the press release.

Both grants were awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

With these two grants, nonprofit organizations in New Jersey’s Fourth District, represented by Smith, have been awarded $4.9 million in the past 18 months to help combat substance abuse and opioid addiction, according to the press release.

Dan Regan, himself a recovering addict, is the founder and program director of CFC Loud N Clear Foundation. Its grant will allow CFC to expand with two more pilot sites in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

One site will be in the Long Branch-Middletown area and the other site will be in the Brick Township-Toms River area. The grant will help operate the sites through April 2023, according to the press release.

Regan said COVID-19 and social isolation can combine for a potentially overwhelming negative impact on people with addiction, and said the federal funding will help people get through tough times.

“We have two major epidemics going on at the same time,” Regan said. “As places close and social isolation begins, addiction also begins to thrive. Isolation is one of the major causes of relapse, while also being one of the prerequisites of addiction starting.

“Not only will we see more people come out of isolation in relapse, we will also be seeing more people addicted who were not addicted before. This COVID-19 epidemic is causing panic, fear, anxiety, trauma and demanding isolation. This is a recipe for a mental health and addiction explosion.”

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