Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

By Matt Gray | For

A new Gloucester County program intended to help people with substance abuse issues is already growing.

Straight to Treatment allows anyone to walk into a participating police department and explain that they need help battling an addiction. If they complete the application process and have no legal barriers, they are immediately put in touch with a treatment provider.

The county prosecutor’s office launched the program last month, with Washington Township and Clayton police departments as the first agencies taking part.

Deptford and West Deptford departments are now joining the effort. West Deptford will launch its program on Thursday and Deptford starts Sept. 15.

“The goal of Operation Helping Hand is to bring help and offer critical care for those who are suffering from any type of addiction,” explained Resha Jeneby, acting senior assistant prosecutor with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and special deputy attorney general. “The community response has been extremely positive and encouraging, as the need is overwhelming in this county and other counties.”

The state attorney general’s office has encouraged police departments to partner with treatment and recovery services, Jeneby said.

“This gives the substance abuse user a sense of care at the police department and also gets help to the community faster since law enforcement has the most encounters with the public and community,” she said. “This type of relationship strengthens trust in both directions.”

Jeneby hopes to see Straight to Treatment in all police departments in the county by this time next year.

While service providers are at the police stations one day a week during certain hours to meet with applicants, those seeking this service can show up at other times, and will be given an application and a phone number for the provider.

No insurance is needed to get help.

Treatment providers will be stationed at participating police departments as follows:

Clayton: Tuesdays, 2 to 6 p.m.
Deptford Twp: Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (starting Sept. 15)
Washington Twp: Mondays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
West Deptford Twp.: Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m. (starting Sept. 10)

Participants must be Gloucester County residents, but do not need to be residents of these towns in order to get help.

Grant funding from the attorney general’s Operation Helping Hand Initiative helps support Straight to Treatment.

The county also recently launched its Road to Recovery program, which gives addicted offenders charged with non-violent crimes alternatives to jail and other penalties when they appear in participating municipal courts. The program connects these offenders with treatment providers, recovery coaches, mental health support and other services. This program is up and running in Deptford, Monroe and Washington townships, along with Woodbury.

Learn more about the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office Operation Helping Hand on its Facebook page.