Brick officials credited a program that has led 250 drug addicts to get help with bringing down the number of overdoses and drug-related deaths in town this year.
Brick recently received the state EMS Director’s award for its Blue HART program, which allows those addicted to opiates to come to the police department without fear of arrest and seek help. To date, the program has drawn 250 participants.
Brick Police EMS, in 2017, has seen 70 fewer drug overdose cases than last year and seven fewer deaths compared to 2016. Last year, there were 436 overdose cases handled. As a whole, drug overdoses have been on the rise in New Jersey.
Mayor John Ducey, presenting an award for Police Chief James Riccio, directly credited the Blue HART program for helping bring down the totals and said it will likely be expanded throughout New Jersey in the near future. Brick and Manchester began the program together.
“It takes the guys in the department to actually put the program to use,” Riccio said. “It’s because they embraced it, and they used it, that this program is a success.”
Blue HART – which stands for Heroin Addiction Recovery and Treatment – can be offered to those who come to the police department each Thursday in Brick, or to those found to be in possession of drugs elsewhere. The participants are immediately examined and transferred to an inpatient recovery facility, whether they have medical insurance or not.
The program is funded through drug forfeiture proceeds, Ducey said. Those seeking help can come to the police department every Thursday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.