October 18, 2018 In The News, Media

Project SAVE, Started In Gloucester Twp., To Be Tested Countywide

Gloucester Township Patch
October 18, 2018

A drug treatment program Gloucester Township has been using since 2014 is now being tested as a pilot program at the county level.

Project SAVE (Substance Abuse Visionary Effort) will be implemented throughout Camden County as a pilot program for one year, county officials announced on Thursday. Licensed social service professionals will be present in municipal courts throughout the county to offer services for low level drug offenders.

Substance abusers will be linked to the appropriate resources regardless of their ability to pay, according to county officials.

“We are looking at all options to make a long-term impact on this epidemic,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr, founder and active member of the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force, said. “We have seen the impact this program has had on a small scale in Gloucester Township, and we believe as a governing body we should be opening it up and providing the same hope and opportunity for treatment, detox and recovery throughout the entire county. It is no secret that every municipality in the county is struggling with this crisis and the sooner we have the ability to get professionals intervening to stop it, the better off residents will be.”

County officials say they can lower the overall cost of the program through regional contract management services. The Freeholder Board said it will allocate $100,000 to start the program and monitor its investment through the county Department of Health and Human Services with the 18 incoming municipalities like any other grant program.

More than 50 percent of the inmates at Camden County Jail have substance abuse problems, and 277 people throughout the county died of an opioid overdose in 2017, according to county officials. More people died of an opioid overdose than from homicide and motor vehicle accidents combined, they said.

“Every single year we’re losing more Americans to the opioid epidemic than we did in all of the Vietnam War, and in the past eight years, opioid deaths in New Jersey have increased six-fold. Here in Camden County, we know that we have to work together and expand access to resources to help those suffering from the disease of addiction,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1), Vice-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. “Modeling this program on an already-successful effort in Gloucester Township is a sensible way to help residents countywide. In Congress, we just passed a large, bipartisan package aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic, and I am proud to be involved in meaningful efforts on the local, national and state levels.”

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