With a rich and storied history, Elizabeth City, New Jersey is the county seat of Union County and the fourth largest city in the Garden State. It is easily accessible by sea, land, and air, which unfortunately also makes it easier for drugs like heroin to be moved through it.
The heroin overdose death rate is at all-time highs all across the nation, and in New Jersey in 2015, heroin overdose fatalities were more than triple the national heroin overdose death rate, New Jersey On-Linereports. Heroin is making its way into the country and the state via Port Elizabeth and Port Newark, and it was the number one drug cited by individuals admitted to substance abuse treatment sites in Union County in 2014, according to the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
Within Union County, a third of all addiction treatment admissions in 2014 were residents of Elizabeth City. Alcohol and marijuana were the second and third most often cited primary drugs of abuse upon treatment admission after heroin. The opioid epidemic is a serious public health concern all over the United States, and New Jersey and Elizabeth City are no exception to this. Fortunately, there are many prevention, education, treatment, and recovery services within New Jersey and Elizabeth City.
Behavioral Health Concerns in New Jersey and Governmental Response
In 2015, nearly 70,000 residents of New Jersey were admitted to a substance abuse treatment center, DMHAS publishes. When New Jersey residents are compared to national statistics, the following trends are evident, as reported by the Behavioral Health Barometer for 2013-2014:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie set up the Facing Addiction Task Force in an effort to expand substance abuse treatment and preventative measures, decrease the overdose death rate, increase options for those in recovery, partner with the federal government, and help to dispel stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.
Governor Christie also implemented a national prescription drug monitoring program, the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NHPMP), which is a database that New Jersey and several surrounding states use to record information in order to better track controlled substances like prescription opioid pain relievers. The NJPMP is a facet of the Division of Consumer Affairs and serves to monitor prescription trends and dispersion of potentially dangerous substances. The NJPMP requires pharmacists to record prescriptions of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) and human growth hormone (HGH) within a day of them being prescribed. Pharmacists and prescribers can also check on a person’s prescription history before dispensing these drugs. The NJPMP can help to identify risky drug-using and drug-seeking patterns, such as “doctor shopping,” and help to minimize prescription drug diversion and abuse.
New Jersey also has drop box locations for residents to get rid of expired or unused prescription drugs anonymously through Project Medicine Drop. These drop boxes can be successful in keeping these products out of the hands of people who may abuse them. In Elizabeth City, the drop box is located at the Elizabeth Police Department.
Getting Help for Addiction and Mental Illness in Elizabeth City
Due to a Good Samaritan law, which was passed in 2013, New Jersey residents are protected from criminal drug prosecution when seeking help for a drug overdose for themselves or someone else, New Jersey On-Line reports. First responders also have increased access to the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan (naloxone). Both of these measures may help to reduce fatal overdoses.
New JerseyDrug Courts work with people charged with nonviolent, drug-based offenses to help them get into treatment instead of receiving further prosecution. Within New Jersey, treatment facilities are required to provide the following services:
Many treatment facilities receive federal or state funding. In order to get that funding, they must first obtain the required licensing through the New Jersey DHS Office of Licensing before they can offer behavioral health services. Medical providers in New Jersey that are employed at substance abuse facilities must be certified to provide services in their respective fields, and doctors must have a current ASAM/ABAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine/American Board of Addiction Medicine) certification in order to provide care, per the DHS Office of Licensing.
Both public and private facilities that are offering addiction and/or mental health services must be properly accredited and adhere to New Jersey state licensing standards. There are several types of treatment programs for residents of Elizabeth who are seeking behavioral health services.
Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Options in Elizabeth City
In 2015, the majority of people admitted to a substance abuse treatment center in Union County were admitted into outpatient programs. These programs range from highly structured and similar to residential programs, often called intensive outpatient programs (IOP), to more flexible general outpatient services that can be scheduled around existing obligations.
Within Union County, individuals have access to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations that offer a wide range of addiction and mental health services. Addiction treatment is managed by third-party entities within the state of New Jersey, and adult mental health and community-based behavioral health services are overseen by the NJ DMHAS. A directory for treatment services located specifically within Union County can be found here. A comprehensive Directory of Mental Health Services is also provided by the DHS DMHAS.
Nationally, individuals can search for local programs by using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. The NJ DHS also provides a list of local hotlines for individuals in crisis and those seeking referrals for care. Within Union County, DMHAS-funded prevention services are provided by Prevention Links.
Additional nonprofit resources for behavioral health services in Elizabeth City, New Jersey, include: