The ongoing COVID crisis has made the opioid epidemic worse.
More than 1.7 million prescriptions for drugs like oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl have been dispensed since January in New Jersey, according to NJ CARES data. To combat the abuse of those drugs, Burlington County will offer increased services through its Hope One mobile bus program.
The county distributed more than 600 naloxone kits through the Hope One bus in March alone. Since then, the mobile unit — overseen by the county sheriff’s department — has been deployed at least once a week throughout the county.
Hope One began in 2019 and is partnered with the county’s human services and health departments, as well as Virtua Health. The mobile unit offers recovery services and other resources to those struggling with drug addiction.
Each kit of naloxone contains two doses of the overdose reversal drug and is distributed free to adult residents who receive training.
“Each of these kits is a potential life saved from an early death, so we’re incredibly grateful the state of New Jersey has acquired them for us to distribute,” said Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson in a release.
“Long before COVID-19, the addiction epidemic was claiming unbearable numbers of lives, and it still is,” she added. The victims are our friends, our neighbors and our loved ones. We must do everything in our power to save those we can and help get them the support they need to recover.”
Since January, more than 1,626 people have died in New Jersey from suspected drug overdoses, and 71 of those deaths were in Burlington County. According to NJ CARES data, 5,568 naloxone kits have been distributed in the state.
“Distributing naloxone to police, first responders and the public is a critical strategy in the addiction battle that’s proven to save lives,” said Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis.
His department received 624 naloxone kits from the state in March to help it reach more communities. The county’s supply of the antidote is part of an overall statewide effort to make overdose reversal more readily available.
Across New Jersey, the state Department of Human Services distributes more than 13,000 naloxone doses to county outreach programs. Another 64,000 doses are being distributed to residents at pharmacies, and 74,000 are going to police; EMS; homeless shelters; libraries; and reentry organizations, according to the Hopson’s release.
The Hope One mobile bus unit will be in Palmyra on Aug. 25 and Westampton on Aug. 31.
For more information, including where the unit travels, follow the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook.