The opioid epidemic has devastated thousands of families across our nation, state and local communities. Today people across the country and around the world come together to raise awareness for Overdose Awareness Day. For many this is a day of grieving those we have lost, but also a day of hope, a call for further action to end the overdose crisis and a chance to share resources to help those suffering.

At the national level, drug overdoses killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War in 2016. In Burlington County alone, overdoses from heroin and other opiates rose 46 percent from 2011-2016. Since last year, more than 165 people have died of an illicit drug overdose in the county, including 82 in the first half of this year alone.

To help combat this crisis, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services awarded Oaks the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP) in Burlington County. The program, projected to start in October, is part of a state-wide effort to engage and support survivors reversed from an opioid overdose, explore recovery pathways and link them to treatment programs.

Our CEO, Derry Holland, shares, “Expanding our mission and continuum of care through addiction programs gives individuals and families increased access to critical services. We all know someone impacted by substance abuse- a family member, friend, neighbor, colleague- the disease has no boundaries. OORP offers survivors hope for recovery and a chance to end the ‘revolving door’ of cycling in and out of treatment.”

The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program will provide outreach to emergency departments in Burlington County to survivors reversed from an opioid overdose. We will respond to opioid overdose reversals in-person at local health systems. The goal of the program is to link survivors to substance use disorder treatment opportunities, follow-up care and other community resources to support their recovery.  Recovery Specialists and a Patient Navigator will provide outreach, peer support and assist with navigating the system.

“Bringing recovery specialists and the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program to Burlington County is an important step in addressing this epidemic plaguing our communities. We, along with Oaks, understand that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We are confident that if we continue to take action and come together, we can truly make a difference and save lives,” said Freeholder Linda Hughes.

“With the expertise of Oaks Integrated Care, we will link survivors to substance use disorder treatment opportunities, follow-up care and other community resources to support their recovery,” added Hughes.

Research indicates that the longer people remain involved with treatment and continuing care, the more likely they are to benefit and thrive in their recovery. OORP will offer support to survivors for a minimum of 60 days to help navigate their recovery by exploring treatment opportunities such as outpatient, residential services or medication assisted therapy, that match their readiness for change. This includes connecting the survivor to the recovery community for mutual support from individuals with shared experiences.

“I am thrilled that the Freeholders and Oaks Integrated Care have arranged to provide recovery coaches for the emergency rooms serving Burlington County. Having someone available to discuss treatment options following an overdose is a great opportunity to encourage those who are struggling with addiction to make use of available resources. We must continue to find ways to provide treatment for those whose lives are being ruined by this horrific epidemic,” said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina.

Throughout our history, Oaks has cared for individuals and families with substance use and/or co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders in multiple New Jersey counties. We take a holistic approach to recovery by empowering individuals and families in decision-making and addressing barriers to service such as lack of transportation, food insecurity and homelessness. For more information about services, please visit or call our Access Center 1-800-963-3377.

Oaks plans to attend two vigils this evening hosted by Burlington County organizations in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day. Please join us:

The Adam O’Brien Foundation is hosting a candlelight vigil at Indian Acres Tree Farm off Tuckerton Road in Medford, beginning at 6 p.m. The organization also has put together a video of those who have lost their lives to addiction and plans to have guest speakers address addiction, specifically heroin and opioids.

In Mount Holly, Shouting4Shelby, which was created in honor of a 22-year-old who died from an overdose, teamed with the Township Council to host a candlelight vigil and slideshow from 6 to 10 p.m. at Iron Works Park on Wollner Drive. Those who attend are asked to bring a pair of shoes to represent a loved one lost to addiction. The shoes will be donated to a rehabilitation center or homeless shelter.

Additional Resources:

Ph:  1-844-732-2465

NJ Addiction Service Hotline
Ph:  1-844-276-2777

NJ Connect for Recovery
Ph:  1-855-652-3737

Burlington County Alcohol & Drug Abuse Unit
Ph:  609-265-5530