Burlington County receives $900K for opioid addiction programs

Jon Combes holds his bottle of buprenorphine

In this Nov. 14, 2019 photo, Jon Combes holds his bottle of buprenorphine, a medicine that prevents withdrawal sickness in people trying to stop using opiates, as he prepares to take a dose in a clinic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office received a grant from the federal government to boost efforts to combat opioid addiction.

The $900,000 grant, from the Justice Department through its Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program, was the result of a collaboration between the prosecutor’s office and the county sheriff and the departments of human services and corrections.

“We are excited to have these additional resources to help us in our fight against the relentless substance use disorder epidemic that continues to take an unbearable toll on our communities,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news release.

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The money will be used to expand the “Straight … to Treatment” program, which allows people to walk into police departments in five towns and receive free help in overcoming substance abuse. The departments are in Burlington city, Evesham, Mount Holly, Pemberton and Bordentown Township.

It will also ensure that the Operation Helping Hand program will be in place without interruption for the next three years. The initiative allows police officers throughout the county to refer anyone they encounter – someone who had an overdose, someone arrested for a nonviolent crime driven by substance abuse or anyone they know who is struggling with addiction – to an on-call recovery coach, who can offer support and services.

The grant will allow Operation Helping Hand to be expanded to the Burlington County Jail, to provide support to those incarcerated and after their release.

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Burlington County’s Human Services Department will use some of the grant to offer programs to the kids affected by the substance abuse of their parents. The Sheriff’s Department will use the money to support more deployments of its Hope One vehicle, which brings a range of social services to the community including treatment, housing and personal ID cards.

Overall, the prosecutor’s office received two grants from the Justice Department, recently.

The second grant, for $340,000, will be used to purchase a mobile high-tech crime lab to help the prosecutor’s office process digital evidence more quickly at crime scenes.

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