As the opioid epidemic continues to rage, with the death toll rising to 72,000 in 2017 (up by nearly 8,000 deaths from the year before), local governments and residents are looking for ways to help combat the crisis in their communities.
The notion that “this doesn’t happen in my neighborhood” has changed. While national and state legislatures have put plans in place to help fight the epidemic, communities are seeking ways that they can help those affected on the front lines. Helping those who are struggling directly, face to face and in a personalized manner, has become a main focus in the battle. One way that this is happening is through the implementation of mobile response units in local municipalities.
Mobile response units are exactly as they sound. They are often vehicles that travel locally with a team of specialists to the areas with individuals who are most in need. The functions on these units vary; some dispense Narcan and provide training on how to use the overdose reversal medication, and the vehicles are staffed with volunteers ranging from addiction counselors, to recovering addicts themselves, trained nurses, and local police officials. The mission is to bring resources to anyone who may be struggling- educating them on treatment resources that are available to them, and focusing on harm reduction techniques. The initiative has taken hold in many areas of the country, so far reaching 16 states.
Banyan Treatment Centers has partnered with Hope One, a mobile response unit in Atlantic County, New Jersey. The project officially launched just last month, and includes addiction treatment referrals for anyone who is looking for help. Specialists provide information in real time of facilities in the area that have beds available. Waiting lists for treatment have been a major roadblock for those seeking help in the past. Additionally, free Narcan kits and training are available from the unit. All services provided by the team come at absolutely no cost.
“The mobile unit will be a caring, non-judgmental environment for any resident of Atlantic County seeking safety and treatment guidance and support,” said
Timothy Reed, Chief Warrant Officer at the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2016 alone there were 1,409 opioid related overdose deaths in the state of New Jersey, a rate of 16 deaths per every 100,000 residents. The national rate of deaths per 100,000 people is 13.3. The Hope One initiative brings help to individuals in a state that has been hit particularly hard by the epidemic.
Banyan Philadelphia, which is home to both a Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient addiction treatment program, is located less than 90 minutes from Atlantic County, NJ, and has partnered with Hope One as the program’s primary treatment provider.