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Morris County Approves $400,000 to Combat Addiction

Opioid Settlement Funds to Aid Efforts of Nonprofits and Sheriff’s Hope One

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MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Board of County Commissioners has approved $400,000 — funds from legal settlements with drug firms linked to the nation’s opioid crisis — to support five programs in 2024 that focus on treatment, prevention, and other strategies to combat the opioid epidemic.

The programs operated by three non-profits and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office were recommended to share the $400,000 allotment for 2024 by a newly formed Morris County Opioid Advisory Council. The council was created this year as a task force of the Morris County Mental Health & Addiction Services Advisory Board to specifically gather input and suggest the programs best suited to receive the opioid settlement dollars.

“The opioid crisis has devastated the lives of people in Morris County and throughout our nation. We are distributing these settlement dollars to programs that can help people recover their lives and hopefully prevent others from becoming involved with the highly addictive drugs fueling the opioid epidemic,” said Christine Myers, Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director and liaison to the Morris County Department of Human Services.

In New Jersey, all 21 counties and at least 241 municipalities in the state have signed onto nationwide settlement agreements with more than a dozen prescription pain-killer manufacturers, distributors, and retail companies who were sued on claims they caused or contributed to the opioid epidemic. While some litigation continues, more than $50 billion resulting from settlements is expected to be shared with states over the next 20 years.

An estimated $1.1 billion of those funds is expected to come into New Jersey, with the state receiving 50 percent for statewide programs and the remainder being disbursed to counties and municipalities, including Morris County and 19 of the county’s 39 municipalities.

The Morris County Department of Human Services put out a request for applications in the fall, inviting submissions for programs that would address “harm reduction, prevention and early intervention, recovery housing, outreach, case management and support for ongoing outreach efforts.”

The programs recommended by the Council and approved for 2024 funding by the Commissioners on Dec. 6 will augment a well-established network of programs in Morris County that has already been combatting drug abuse and working toward preventing overdoses.

The settlement-funded programs include:

  • Prevention is Key – Morris County Harm Reduction Program. The program aims to increase access to harm reduction services using Narcan and education/training. Harm reduction training will be provided to both community partners and members to increase knowledge on harm reduction, reducing stigma, and providing support for individuals struggling with substance use disorder.  
  • Prevention is Key– Combatting Opioids. Prevention and early intervention will offer evidence-based programs to address the stigma associated with mental health and substance use, increase awareness, and foster recovery.
  • The Milestone House – Recovery Housing. This program will provide a stable and supportive living environment for individuals in recovery with a focus on building a sense of community, providing access to resources needed to support long-term recovery, and medication-assisted treatment. This funding also will support a software system to track recovery outcomes for future reporting.
  • NewBridge Services – Outreach and Case Management. This program will provide individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorder with case management to help navigate treatment and recovery services.
  • The Morris County Sheriff’s Office – Hope One. The Hope One Program is an outreach program that provides access to community-based substance use and behavioral health services. The program provides Narcan training and education throughout Morris County to prevent deaths due to an overdose. This funding will support Mental Health Association staff on Hope One for three days per week. Two days is already supported through existing funds.

Morris County’s Process for Disbursing Opioid Settlement Funds

The Morris County Department of Human Services oversaw the administration and creation of the system by which the settlement funds would be disbursed. Appointees from the Morris County Mental Health Addictions Services Advisory Board were selected to serve on the Morris County Opioid Advisory Council.

Membership included:

  • An individual(s) possessing expertise in substance use disorder treatment or prevention.
  • An individual representing a provider of behavioral health or substance use disorder treatment in the community.
  • A member with personal experience with substance use 
  • The Morris County Prosecutor or designee
  • An individual authorized to appropriate funds on behalf of the County or designee

The Department of Human Services also hosted four listening sessions, two virtual and two in public, with stakeholders and community members to discuss gaps and service needs within the county’s human services and nonprofit system to assist in the development of funding priorities.

Ultimately, the Department of Human Services distributed a request for applications based on the funding priorities.  Those submissions were reviewed by the Opioid Advisory Council and the resulting recommendations were presented for a full vote by the Morris County Mental Health Addictions Services Advisory Board before being submitted to the County Commissioners for action.

Morris County anticipates using the same process as opioid settlement funds are made available in coming years.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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