Overdoses, Narcan rescues declined in Brick last year

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Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio has been actively working to combat opioid problems in Brick through education and the Blue HART program [Ocean Star file photo]

BRICK TOWNSHIP — As the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on shore communities, Brick police officials are looking toward 2019 optimistically as efforts to educate residents and operate the Blue HART [Heroin Ad- diction and Recovery Treatment] program are leading toward a trending decline in overdoses and Narcan administrations.

Following 2016, one of the worst years for opioid overdoses in the state and the worst for Brick Township in its history, Brick officials sought ways to fight back against the epidemic. Since then, an array of educational programs as well as the Blue HART project are contribut- ing to overdoses trending downward.

“I don’t know how many other towns can say that, so we must be doing something right,” said Chief James Riccio speaking to the downward trend of opioid overdoses in the township.

In 2016, Brick had 203 overdoses as well as 116 cases in which Nalaxone [Narcan], a medication used to combat fatal effects of opioid overdoses, was administered, according to Chief Riccio.

In 2017, the number of overdoses in Brick had dropped to 141. In 2018, that number fell again to 131, marking a 35.5 percent de- crease in just two years. Additionally, Narcan was administered 87 times in 2018, marking a 25 percent decrease over two years.

The Blue HART program, which has helped over 800 people since it began in 2017 in Ocean County, will continue for its third year in 2019 and continues to be a success for the township and county.

Blue HART is open to anyone who voluntarily wishes to turn themselves in for treatment. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, those seeking help with addiction can enter the Brick Police Department, 401 Chambers Bridge Road.

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