Recommendations for Enhancement of Recovery Support Services in Addressing Opioid Use Disorders in NJ

This week, I welcome Morgan Thompson of Prevention Links to deliver a guest blog on the state of recovery support services in New Jersey. Prevention Links has been a leader in the state, not only in prevention, but also in recovery. The organization provides services such as recovery planning and family support, and it opened and runs the Raymond Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope Recovery High School.

By Morgan Thompson, Prevention Links

Recommendations for Enhancement of Recovery Support Services in Addressing Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs) in New Jersey

The following evidence-based recovery support services are already being implemented to some extent in the state of New Jersey, but should be enhanced to serve all New Jersey residents with OUDs. In 2016, 53,511 unduplicated individuals were admitted for substance use treatment in New Jersey. In half of those cases, heroin or other opioids were the primary drug. All of these services can be used in conjunction with medications for OUDs.

  • Recovery community centers: New Jersey currently funds two recovery community centers — in Passaic and Camden counties. These facilities serve as safe spaces for mutual aid meetings, recovery-friendly social and recreational activities, case management, peer services and other important recovery supports. These centers create a centralized hub in each community through which many of the support services can be driven, and through which data and outcomes can be gathered, analyzed and discussed in a coordinated fashion, much like the statewide hospital-based Opioid Overdose Recovery Program initiative. Recommendation: Make funding available for recovery community centers in 21 counties. Estimated cost $7,350,000 (including current $700,000).
  • Peer services: Currently, peer mentors or recovery coaches are being utilized in the state primarily at the pre-treatment and engagement end of the continuum. However, peers are instrumental throughout the OUD continuum of care. In particular, having access to a peer mentor or recovery coach in the first 12 to 24 months of recovery can reduce the risk of reoccurrence and the need for subsequent treatment episodes. Recommendation: Expand the Support Team for Addiction Recovery (STAR) Program to serve all 21 counties. Estimated cost $7,350,000 (including current $3,850,000).
  • Recovery residences: New Jersey has approved funding for sober living facilities in New Jersey for the first time in the 2018-2019 state budget. Recommendation: Additional funding should be sought to enhance capacity to meet the statewide need for this service.
  • Collegiate recovery programs: A handful of state universities are funded to provide substance use recovery housing on campus, along with additional recovery support services for students in recovery. Recommendation: Additional funding should be made available for community colleges and majority commuter schools to provide on-campus recovery support services to students in recovery. 
  • Recovery high schools: The Department of Education has allocated $3 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to support three existing recovery high schools — one each in the northern, southern and central regions of the state. Recommendation: An additional $2 million is needed to support the development of two additional schools so all 21 counties can be served by a recovery high school. Estimated cost: $5 million (including current $3 million).
  • Family recovery support: Currently, three regional family support centers are funded in the state to serve 50 families annually. Recommendation: Increase funding to serve 100 families annually in each region. Estimated cost: $600,000 (including current $300,000).


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