Members of Morris County law enforcement have reached a milestone - one thousand overdoses reversed as a result of the deployment of Narcan by police officers, a life-saving intervention.
On November 4, 2021, officers administered two doses of Narcan to a man who was found unconscious and unresponsive as a result of an overdose in Morristown. The victim regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital for evaluation. Narcan, the aerosol form of naloxone, is an opioid antagonist that can be used to counter the effects of an opiate overdose, and is administered nasally through use of a syringe-atomizer.
This incident is just one of a thousand (1,000) such reversals, made possible by trained officers equipped with overdose-reversal kits through the Narcan initiative. First launched in 2015, the initiative was expanded two years later, and today, is a partnership between the Morris County Prosecutor's Office, local law enforcement, medical, and social service agencies, such as Morris CARES (Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success), a project of Prevention is Key (PIK).
Law enforcement officer reversals by year:
- 2015: 44
- 2016: 110
- 2017: 186
- 2018: 215
- 2019: 176
- 2020: 156
- 2021: 113 (as of Nov. 4)
The program requires that every person who has overdosed and had their condition reversed in the field due to the administration of Narcan by police officers must be counseled by a certified Peer Recovery Specialist, trained by Morris CARES, a non-profit, recovery organization based in Rockaway Borough. The Peer Recovery Specialist, who are themselves persons in recovery, are using their experiences with addiction and recovery to help overdose survivors navigate treatment programs and maintain paths to recovery.
The need for such an initiative is a stark reminder of the impact heroin/fentanyl and prescription opioids have had on our state. An estimated 8 people are lost to overdoses a day in New Jersey. The emergence of potent fentanyl has exacerbated substance use disorder and the number of overdoses.
Mount Olive Police Chief Stephen Beecher, president of the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association, stated, “drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for those under 50 years of age. A sad and staggering fact. We know that we are not going to arrest ourselves out of this health crisis. We know that addiction is a disease. We know that education and treatment is the key. We know that getting sober and maintaining recovery is a difficult journey. Our officers’ ability to use Narcan saves lives and gives those struggling with addiction the chance to get sober for themselves and their loved ones.”
Melody Runyan, Associate Director of Morris CARES, said “as a result of Morris County law enforcement having the ability to carry and administer the powerful opiate overdose antidote, Narcan, 1,000 people have been given another chance to change their lives. This, along with CARES partnership with the Morris County Prosecutor’s office, Atlantic Health and Saint Clare’s hospital systems, through Narcan 2.0- is invaluable in addressing the opioid epidemic. Narcan 2.0 is a project in which overdose survivors have the opportunity to work with a CARES Certified Peer Recovery Specialist who use their lived experience with problematic substance use and with recovery to help individual struggling with opiate use disorder find and maintain a path of recovery.”
Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said, “1,000 overdose reversals is a solemn milestone that nevertheless highlights the critical, heroic work Morris County officers do nearly every day. Often the first on the scene of an overdose, uniformed officers are able to intervene quickly and save lives. The public is not always aware of just how many lives are shattered due to overdoses. Our officers deserve recognition and our gratitude.”
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