Trenton is the county seat of Mercer County and the capital of the state of New Jersey, with a population of close to 85,000 people in 2010, per the City of Trenton. The state of New Jersey has been hit hard with issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, and Trenton City has as well.
Substance abuse treatment providers in New Jersey report that in 2015, there were nearly 70,000 New Jersey residents admitted for care, as published by the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Over half of all treatment admissions for substance abuse issues in 2015 in Mercer County were residents of Trenton City. Marijuana, alcohol, and heroin (in that order) were the substances reported most often as the primary substances of abuse.
The opioid epidemic is particularly significant within the state of New Jersey, as over 5,000 residents have died from a heroin overdose since 2004 and close to 130,000 people battle addiction involving heroin. Between 2014 and 2015, the overdose death rate in the Garden State jumped almost a quarter, as close to 1,600 residents lost their lives to a drug overdose in 2015. Governor Chris Christie has set up the Facing Addiction Taskforce to try and tackle the issues head on.
There are many resources for prevention and treatment, both in Trenton City and New Jersey in general. Addiction is a disease that can be managed with specialized care and attention, and there is help available in New Jersey.
Landscape of Addiction and Mental Health Treatment in New Jersey
New Jersey residents are dependent on or abuse alcohol and drugs at similar rates to the rest of the nation (based on 2013-2014 numbers), the Behavioral Health Barometer for the State of New Jersey reports. People in New Jersey received treatment for alcohol dependence as often as people across the United States; however, Garden State residents received care for drug addiction more often (23.7 percent versus 14.1 percent).
National averages and New Jersey State averages for those suffering from a serious mental illness (SMI) are also similar, as is the average rate for those who received treatment for any mental illness between 2013 and 2014. Residents of New Jersey who received treatment for any mental illness through the public mental health system had a much higher rate of improved function over the national averages, however: 94.1 percent over 70.9 percent.
There is still a gap state and nationwide for those who need treatment and those who receive it. Within the Garden State, those who get professional help through the public mental health system fare better.
Mental health care and addiction treatment are both generally housed under behavioral health services, which are offered in many different formats, ranging from early intervention and crisis services to outpatient and intensive outpatient programs, treatment for co-occurring disorders, partial hospitalization, residential programs, and transitional housing and supportive aftercare services. Everyone requiring treatment for addiction and/or mental health concerns will have variable needs and circumstances; therefore, there are many different types of programs and offerings for treatment and care.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) works hard to ensure that Garden State residents are well attended to and cared for by regulating the quality of care provided within its borders. The merged Division of Addiction Services (DAS) and Division of Mental Health Services (DMHS) into DMHAS ensures that both mental health needs and substance abuse concerns are being addressed and managed in an integrated format. NJ DMHAS oversees all mental health and community-based behavioral health services for adults within the state. Currently, addiction treatment in New Jersey, and therefore in Trenton City, is handled by contracted third-party entities, although the state is striving to move toward a managed care system.
Local and State Laws regarding Drug Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment
To receive funding for behavioral health treatment services from state and/or federal coffers, agencies within New Jersey are required to obtain the proper licensing from the DHS (Department of Human Services) Office of Licensing. The psychiatric hospital in Trenton is operated by DMHAS, which is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and certified by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Private and public facilities must also adhere to state licensing and accreditation standards, and providers are required to be certified to provide treatment in their field. For example, medical doctors employed at substance abuse treatment facilities in New Jersey must hold a current certification from ASAM/ABAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine/American Board of Addiction Medicine) in order to treat patients per the DHS Office of Licensing.
In 2013, New Jersey passed what is commonly referred to as a “Good Samaritan Law,” which protects victims and witnesses of drug overdose from prosecution for reporting these instances and attempting to save lives, New Jersey On-Line publishes. The statute also provides greater access to overdose reversal medications.
In an attempt to slow and prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has enacted the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), which requires pharmacies and medical providers to keep detailed records of controlled substances in a statewide database. In 2014, nearly half of all substance abuse treatment admissions in the state were for heroin and opioid drugs – the highest number in 10 years. Within the city of Trenton, residents can drop unused medications anonymously in a secure drop box at the Mercer County Sherriff’s Office in an effort to further prevent abuse of prescription drugs through New Jersey’s Project Medicine Drop (NJPMD).
New Jersey also has a drug court system in place to address nonviolent and drug-related criminal offenses. These drug courts connect individuals with treatment for addiction and mental health instead of prosecution and work to build a collaborative working relationship between behavioral health treatment providers and the judicial system through New Jersey courts.
New Jersey Resources for Help with Addiction
There are many different kinds of resources for getting help for addiction and/or mental health concerns within Trenton City and the state of New Jersey. Public programs offer services for free or at a low cost to those who qualify for services, which is typically determined by income level and level of need. Private facilities provide care for a fee, and they often accept medical insurance to help defray costs. There are also several nonprofit organizations within the Garden State that offer an array of treatment options as well.
Substance abuse providers within the state of New Jersey are required to provide an initial assessment, referrals for specialty (and co-occurring) services when needed, therapy sessions, medical and psychiatric evaluations, education and preventative services, and recovery support. Detox services, medical and medication management, transitional services, and aftercare services are often included as well. Both mental health and addiction treatment programs may offer care in either outpatient or residential settings, depending on what each individual requires. Detailed assessments and evaluations can help to determine what level of care is ideal.
Below are some of the resources within New Jersey for those who need help for mental illness and/or addiction.