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Peers will play pivotal role in New Jersey initiative targeting opioid use disorders

September 29, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Leaders at Integrity House in New Jersey are excited about the potential of a federally funded initiative in which case managers and peer recovery specialists will work together to improve outcomes for patients with opioid use disorders. The project represents something of a new frontier for Integrity House as well, as the Newark-based organization has not yet fully incorporated peer recovery specialists into its other programming.

The state of New Jersey has awarded Integrity House the Ocean County contract under the Support Team for Addiction Recovery (STAR) initiative, a project designed both to decrease target populations' use of opioids and to address participants' broader medical and social-service needs. STAR funding has been awarded in 10 New Jersey counties, although an appeal process for unsuccessful bidders is active until Oct. 6.

“We will be offering wraparound services to the most vulnerable individuals,” Integrity House development director Johanna Stroever tells Addiction Professional. “These will include those who have experienced a reversal of an overdose, those who are coming out of residential treatment, and those who have been released from jail or prison. ... We will be working with these individuals for up to 12 months.”

Stroever says each county program participating in STAR will have to enlist the services of at least two case managers and two recovery specialists. Integrity House intends to use a combination of existing staff members and new hires for these roles.

“There will be two people dedicated to each individual to help the person sustain recovery,” says Stroever. “They will try to make sure that the person has a job that they can sustain, that they can find housing, pay rent, or reunite with their child.”

She adds, “This will be a very mobile service, meeting people where they are.”

Input from partners

The state's STAR initiative, funded through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant dollars, also emphasizes the input of community partners in each county. In its application for the Ocean County contract, Integrity House received letters of support from a number of organizations in the county, such as:

  • The Ocean County Department of Corrections, which will refer offenders leaving the county jail to STAR.

  • The Bergen Regional Medical Center, which will refer patients from its detox, short-term residential and outpatient programs.

  • Young People in Recovery, which will work with Integrity House to connect individuals with follow-up educational, employment and housing services.

Stroever says the project by definition will be evaluating success along a number of variables, including opioid use outcomes but also several other quality-of-life measures.

Integrity House was one of the recipients of this year's Addiction Professional Outstanding Clinical Care Awards, for the efforts of its residential treatment program for adolescent males.