Brick officials say more than 30 people addicted to drugs admitted their problems and agreed to get on the road to recovery during the first week of a program in which addicts can come to the Brick Township police department without threat of arrest and ask for help.
“Hopefully, that’s 30 lives saved,” said Brick Mayor John Ducey. “Hopefully they’ll get themselves better, get themselves healthy, and go back to being productive citizens.”
Under the program, being piloted in Brick and Manchester, an addicted person can come to the police department one day each week, turn in their substances without the threat of arrest, and ask for help.
Known as HARP – which stands for Heroin Addiction Response Program – the initiative has been created through a partnership between the two police departments and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, as well as Preferred Behavioral Health and Integrity House of Toms River. Any person who voluntarily enters the two participating departments and requests help with addiction to heroin or opiates – or any substance – shall be immediately screened for potential participation in HARP.
The screening is done with care and dignity, said one Brick councilwoman who personally knew the family of one of the program’s participants.
“This young man was really on his last legs and asked for mercy,” said Councilwoman Marianna Pontoriero. “His mother had tried to get him inpatient care at least four to five times and they only gave him two weeks.”
Under the police department’s program, a 30 day recovery program is provided, for no charge if a person does not have medical insurance.
“You could tell that they really wanted this young man to succeed,” Pontoriero said of the Brick officers who took him into the program. “Within a few hours, he was placed at another facility and he was doing extraordinarily well.”
Word has gotten out, and it is apparent that more people will be taking advantage of the opportunity to beat addiction.
“While we were sitting there doing intake, another person walked in seeking help,” Pontoriero said.