Paramus to Launch HART Program to Address Bergen County Heroin Epidemic

The Paramus Police Department (“Paramus PD”) will work with Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”) to launch of the Heroin Addiction Recovery Team (“HART”) program in Paramus on May 3rd. Those seeking recovery will be able to turn themselves in at the police station and be connected with services to meet their needed level of care.

Funded with $118,000 in grants from the Robert & Catherine Murray Charitable Trust, the Knight Family Charitable Foundation, Inc., and the Care Plus Foundation, Inc., and with the support of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the team will act as a comprehensive support system for individuals battling addiction.

“The goals of the HART program include alleviating the burden of low level drug, decriminalizing those individuals seeking treatment, and connecting them with the most appropriate and effective continuum of care,” stated Joe Masciandaro, CEO and President at CarePlus. “We are incredibly grateful to those organizations that have generously provided funding for us to get started, and impressed with Prosecutor Grewal, Chief Ehrenberg and the entire Paramus PD for their compassion and eagerness to take on this project.”

Masciandaro asserts that there are four pillars to recovery in behavioral health care: primary health care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and access to social supports. All of these components can be addressed through the team, which will be composed of the police, the care providers, the family and the individual in recovery.

The vision is inspired by what they are doing in Ocean County. People show up to police stations with their drugs and paraphernalia, and instead of being incarcerated, they have the opportunity to be connected with rehabilitation services. Similar efforts are being made throughout the state, including in Mahwah. The HART project is also expected to launch in Lyndhurst this May.

“Our partners at Integrity House shared the details of a number of similar models that they are involved in. Between their experience and willingness to contribute, and the CarePlus expertise in coordinating care around Bergen County, we are confident about our capacity for success,” Masciandaro continued. “It seems to be the obvious next step for our community, with the high level of collaboration between law enforcement and behavioral health professionals through the Crisis Intervention Team trainings.”

The Paramus PD has a long history of partnership with CarePlus, especially with the experience of responding with the Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program (262-HELP). Those working to launch the HART program are optimistic that a similar response team will benefit those battling addiction.

“It takes a great deal of courage to seek treatment. If individuals who are motivated are facing barriers to accessing care, it could prevent them from following through,” explained Katherine Coleman, Director of Addictive Services at CarePlus. “When we open doors, offer guidance and support their entry into treatment, it helps them to be more productive in achieving recovery.”

CarePlus and Integrity House share the goal of breaking cycles of recidivism through this comprehensive approach to recovery. It is important to note that while the organizations will act as essential resources for the team, the HART program does not fall under the umbrella of service for either organization.

In recognition of “May is Mental Health Month”, and in support of the Paramus Stigma-Free Task Force initiative to further destigmatize addiction, the team plans to officially launch the HART program in Paramus on May 3rd, 2017.

Every Wednesday, the Paramus Police Department will allow for those seeking help to show up between 9am-5pm to be connected the treatment team. Individuals with warrants for their arrest will have to address those issues before being connected to services.

“Once an individual completes inpatient treatment, the aftercare team is an integral part of maintained recovery,” Coleman continued. “Setting up support and education in the community assists in the transition process back into their environments, and provides guidance in reestablishing a healthy and productive lifestyle. It is not only beneficial for that person, but also for the community at large.”

For more information on the HART program in Paramus, contact Katherine Coleman, ED.M, MA, LPC, LCADC at (201) 986-5045 or Tara Walsh, LAC, NCC at 201-265-8200 x5450.