MORRIS COUNTY — As a steady stream of people picked up free Narcan at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Morristown on Tuesday, staff of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One vehicle were ready to train them on administering the life-reviving antidote that reverses an opioid overdose.
Navigating Hope, a Morris County-run outreach vehicle like Hope One that brings social services guidance and referrals directly to individuals, worked alongside the Hope One staff to answer any questions posed by passersby and patrons leaving Rite Aid with their free Naloxone, which is known by the brand name Narcan.
As of 2:00 p.m. on June 18, Rite Aid had distributed 105 of 150 doses of Narcan it received from the New Jersey Department of Human Services as part of a campaign to slow the tide of opioid overdose deaths and bring attention to the health crisis. Of dozens of participating pharmacies across the state, three pharmacies in Morris County took part in the giveaway, including Rite Aid in Morristown, Walgreens in Dover and Walmart in Flanders.
And, as of 2:00 p.m., Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Kelly LaBar, who works aboard Hope One, had trained 14 people on how to correctly administer the nasal spray Narcan to temporarily reverse an overdose.
Many of the people who collected a dose under the no-questions-asked program already are familiar with Narcan because of their jobs as law enforcement officers, paramedics or substance use counselors. But they wanted a dose on hand in case they encounter a person in the throes of an overdose.
Audrey Ma, a mother of three who works in a school district, said she is aware of the dangers of opioid addiction and in particular wants her oldest child to learn about the opioid and heroin crisis.
“You never know when anyone might have an issue. This is reality and like the Girl Scout motto: Be prepared,” Mrs. Ma said after she was trained on Narcan use.
“It’s a fine program. I got some in case a client comes in and needs it,” said Substance Use Counselor Charles R. Berman.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer stopped by the Hope One tent and met Rite Aid Pharmacist Susan Novembre, who was overseeing the Narcan distribution Tuesday morning. Ms. Novembre said the cost for a dose of Narcan for an uninsured person is about $150.
“The statewide free distribution of Naloxone is a tremendous, proactive measure that recognizes the dire toll that opioid addiction is taking on individuals and families,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Hope One, launched on April 3, 2017, brings Narcan training and kits, substance use and mental health services, directly into communities. As of June 17, 2019, Hope One had made contact with 7,299 people, trained 1,770 people in the use of Narcan, arranged for substance use treatment services for 133 people, and mental health treatment services for 98 people.
Navigating Hope, a collaboration between the Morris County Office of Temporary Service and the non-profit Family Promise of Morris County, began its journey around Morris County about one month ago. Its staff helps connect people who are homeless, in need of Food Stamps, Medicaid, General Assistance, Veterans Services or other social programs with the services they need.
On Tuesday, Navigating Hope staff handed out literature about services and assisted for several hours a homeless man living in Morristown.
For more information on the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One program click here.