Sussex County C.L.E.A.R. Program
“The C.L.E.A.R. Program was the first step to saving my life.”
marks three years since we first met to discuss how we can better address the escalating opioid epidemic that we were seeing in Sussex County. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey and the rate of heroin overdose in NJ is three times the national average. And, unfortunately, Sussex County residents are dying of overdose at a higher rate than the NJ state average. Early discussions brought numerous county leaders and organizations to the table where we formed the Sussex County Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery program, C.L.E.A.R. These stakeholders joined together with the common goal of collaborating to improve access to treatment and recovery support for those struggling with addiction who seek assistance, without fear of arrest or prosecution. We were certain that this was the best, evidence-based route to make a positive difference in the quality of life for individuals, families and our entire community. We began accepting our first participants in July 2016 at the Newton Police Department and we’ve been steadily building the program and helping people ever since. Police Departments across Sussex County can now accept participants, providing improved ease of access to help for addition recovery to our residents. These local police departments now share critical linkage with healthcare and addiction treatment professionals. While we started with focusing on opioid addiction, we now will help those struggling with any substance, including alcohol, as there is often more than one substance being used. Our CLEAR recovery coaches have also started seeing people who have overdosed when they are taken to the Newton Medical Center through the Center for Prevention and Counseling’s Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP) and with their Integrated Recovery Innovations (IRI) Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. The success stories have been numerous and the many lives positively impacted have been great, however, our work is just getting started.
“A community problem needs a community solution.”
We are frustrated by seeing more people dying and having life-saving Naloxone administered to them than are seeking assistance. Our recovery coaches are available to help and common barriers to treatment, such as having insurance or the ability to pay for treatment, have been removed. Our coaches have lived experience and professional training to help navigate individuals and their families through the various challenges on the path to recovery.
We need the public’s help in sharing this message. Recovery is a solution that benefits everyone. Just as the ripple effects of drug addiction can cause devastation, so can recovery create positive changes in our community.
Photo by Tracy Klimek/New Jersey Herald
In Sussex County, 87% of all drug related arrests are for possession, leaving only 13% for drug distribution arrests. This means that we have a larger drug demand problem than a drug supply problem. While law enforcement will continue to target drug dealers, only the C.L.E.A.R. program can help reduce drug demand so that together, we can significantly improve quality of life and reduce drug overdose deaths. Data in this report demonstrates that all of Sussex County is affected by addiction. As such, we need everyone to help. Our county is averaging 12 naloxone administrations and 3 overdose deaths per month. Additionally, over the past 18 months, there has been a 74% increase in heroin seized by law enforcement in Sussex County that contains fentanyl. This makes the problem of drug addiction even more urgent. Drug addiction in Sussex County has become even deadlier and too often fatal for those who are using it and even more dangerous to the Police and EMS who respond to help. We are sharing this important information to everyone in the hopes that with a better understanding, more people will join in our efforts. A community problem needs a community solution. The Sussex County CLEAR Program is the collaborative solution that is time-proven to be effective.
â€œRecovery is a solution that benefits everyone.â€?
Thank you to our many partners, organizations, businesses and community leaders from across Sussex County who have joined our effort. We ask that you please consider joining us in this endeavor to save lives and to improve the quality of life in Sussex County. Share our message of hope, follow us on social media, learn more on our website and please consider contributing financially so that we can improve our outreach to those struggling with addiction in Sussex County.
Chief Michael S. Richards Newton Police Department
Becky Carlson, Executive Director Center for Prevention and Counseling
"Your motto gives me hope that, as more of us get together with these conversations, we will have that groundswell to address this crisis as we addressed [other] crises in our history." GURBIR GREWAL ATTORNEY GENERAL
Hope begins here.
Year 2 Milestones September 12, 2017 September 20, 2017
Recovery Coaches began responding to patients reversed from an opioid overdose at Newton Medical Center through the NJ Opioid Overdose Recovery Program Training was provided to designated officers from Andover, Byram, Hardyston, Franklin, Sparta and Vernon Police Departments
September 22, 2017
C.L.E.A.R. partners were featured in the Knock-Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall series presented by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey
November 15, 2017
Newton Police Chief Richards spoke on a panel at the annual NJ League of Municipalities conference presenting information about C.L.E.A.R.
November 15, 2017
All six trained police departments joined Newton becoming intake points for the C.L.E.A.R. Program to anyone seeking help with a substance use problem
January 18, 2018
Press conference was held announcing program expansion
February 5, 2018
Recovery Coaches began responding to patients experiencing any drug-related crises at Newton Medical Center
February 18, 2018 June 11, 2018 June 18, 2018 July 13, 2018
Sixteen new volunteer Recovery Coaches completed 2nd in-house CCAR Recovery Coach AcademyÂŠ Recovery Coaches participated in Operation Helping Hand which offers help to people arrested for a drug offense First Drop-in Center in Montague was held with plans for an additional location in Sussex Training was provided to officers from Hamburg and Ogdensburg Police Departments
C.L.E.A.R. Coalition Successes
The C.L.E.A.R. program conducted biannual partner surveys to assess its goals of forming a collaborative network of professionals working on substance use reduction in Sussex County and reports were prepared by the Atlantic Center for Population Health Sciences of Atlantic Health System. One respondent said, “For the first time I feel that we have the ability to fight back against drug addiction instead of just reacting. We have finally found a way to unite the entire county in the battle facing our residents; This new approach gives hope and a chance for a real recovery to many who would never ask for it.”
JOE DIPAOLO PRESIDENT, NMC
“Newton Medical Center is very proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the network of community law enforcement and healthcare providers to extended care and counseling beyond the four walls of our hospital. It is only through partnerships that we can share each others strengths for the good of all families in Sussex, Warren and Pike Counties.” 4
Intake Locations & Law Enforcement Partners
During the second year of the C.L.E.A.R. Program, an additional eight police departments joined Newton to become participant intake locations. Sussex County has eleven municipal police departments while thirteen municipalities are covered by the New Jersey State Police who have assisted with Drop-in Centers in Montague and Sussex. Furthermore, inmates at Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility can request to meet with a recovery Coach for assistance in developing a plan for recovery prior to release.
"This expansion will now make the incredibly successful C.L.E.A.R. program even more accessible to all residents in Sussex County." Annual Report
Law Enforcement Officers see firsthand the devastation caused by drug addiction. While police across the county remain steadfast in their commitment to enforce the law and prosecute crimes, they are also dedicated to saving lives through the use of Narcan and improving the overall quality of life for everyone by helping to provide a clear opportunity for recovery from addiction to those who seek assistance, without fear of arrest or prosecution. As a partner of PAARI, the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, that was established in 2015, our coalition was able to learn from the procedures they were pioneering. We in turn developed our own policies and procedures, recruited and trained volunteer Recovery Coaches, established relationships with treatment centers and launched the program to meet the needs in our community. Since the beginning, hundreds of people have contacted C.L.E.A.R. for assistance, many individuals with substance use disorder have been connected to peer recovery coaches and treatment services, and numerous families have been assisted with connection to family recovery coaches, helping to steer their loved ones into recovery.
Photo by Daniel Freel/New Jersey Herald
"Identification of addiction and offering a pathway to hope where there was literally none, serves not only the person with addiction, but our entire community by way of reduced crime, lower overall healthcare costs and of course, personal health and productivity. Our department is proud to join with other law enforcement within our county as we continue to bridge the gap between addiction and recovery through collaborative efforts within both the law enforcement and the healthcare communities," said Hardyston Police Chief Bret Alemy.
In May of 2016, the Sussex County Police Chiefs Association presented a check of $1,000 to the C.L.E.A.R. Program. From left, front, are Francis Koch, Sussex County Prosecutor; Bret Alemy, 2016 Association President and Hardyston Police Chief; Eugene McInerney, Franklin Police Chief; Katie Calvacca, Recovery Coach; Becky Carlson, Executive Director for the Center for Prevention and Counseling; and Mike Strada, Sussex County Sheriff. Back row, Eric Danielson, Andover Police Chief; Tom Hauck, FBI; Steve Pittegher, Stanhope Police Chief; Michael Richards, Newton Police Chief; Tom McCormick, Sussex County Sheriff's Department Chief of Detectives; Peter Zabita, Byram Police Chief; and Randy Mills, Vernon Police Chief. 6
In 2014, Sussex was the first county in New Jersey to equip all law enforcement agencies with Narcan, a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Due largely in part to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, Narcan administrations and overdose deaths have risen dramatically in the past few years. In 2017, the Sussex County area had 38 overdose deaths due to heroin, prescription medications and other drugs, along with 151 opioid overdoses where Narcan was administered by EMS or Law Enforcement. Those numbers increased from 25 overdose deaths and 50 administrations of Narcan in 2015.
People served July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 HELP
different people from the community contacted C.L.E.A.R. for INFORMATION or ASSISTANCE
RECOVERY COACHES responded to calls from Newton Medical Center for 124 different patients, and 82% of patients engaged in treatment or recovery support services.
people with substance use disorder (SUD) were connected to PEER RECOVERY COACHES.
22 8 78
people with SUD entered the program by walking into a participating POLICE DEPARTMENT.
people met with a PEER RECOVERY COACH before release from KEOGH DWYER Correctional Facility.
people with SUD were assisted to ACCESS TREATMENT, thirteen of whom were indigent and provided scholarships.
concerned family members or friends were connected to FAMILY RECOVERY COACHES.
Community Involvement Minisink Press printed thousands of C.L.E.A.R. cards. Back in July of 2016, Chief Richards knew that getting the word out about C.L.E.A.R. was imperative. He called upon officers to put up flyers, placed brochures in the station and asked printing company, Minisink Press, to become part of the effort by producing C.L.E.A.R. business cards to hand out all over the community. Since that time, Minisink Press has provided over 10,000 business cards to the C.L.E.A.R. program and these cards are distributed almost daily at different events, programs and meetings countywide.
TJ’s Pizzeria Café, along with The Robert J. Hontz Memorial Fund and R-Wireless, raised over $1,550.
Steven Freaney and Tim Deaver, owners of TJ's Pizzeria Cafés in Franklin and Sussex are committed to helping the community and contacted the Center for Prevention & Counseling to join our efforts. TJ’s has raised money and awareness through school specials, “dough-raisers” and involving other organizations. Long-time customer John Hontz lost his son Robbie to an overdose on July 2, 2017, and the day before Robbie passed away, John was met by Newton police officers at the hospital and given a C.L.E.A.R. card. At the time he remembered thinking, “if this approach had existed back when Robbie first got addicted, my son might not be in the hospital today.” Now the Hontz family is dedicated to helping others in their son’s name. Neighboring business Verizon premium retailer R-Wireless teamed up with TJ’s in March 2018 and launched a program called "Change for Change” where both businesses asked customers if they would like to round up on their purchase, with the customer's change going toward raising funds for C.L.E.A.R. Newton Police Chief Mike Richards said, "This funding will go a long way to assist in our efforts. Both companies are shining examples of how small businesses can positively impact the community when we work together."
The Sussex County Drug Court Alumni Association donated care packages for C.L.E.A.R. participants. Most often, people seeking help through the C.L.E.A.R. Program need inpatient withdrawal management and treatment services, and, when also dealing with poverty or homelessness, it is difficult to gather even the most basic items needed. Members of the Sussex County Drug Court Alumni Association, along with current Drug Court participants, collected alcohol-free toiletry items and assembled care packages for both men and women.
Photo by Daniel Freel/NJ Herald
Students at Sussex County Technical School created posters and window clings. Executive Director of the Center for Prevention & Counseling, Becky Carlson, reached out to Graphic Design teacher Steve Styles at Sussex Tech, and his students worked on promotional posters to assist with outreach.
New Jersey Herald published free ads. In addition to providing press coverage for many events and milestones of the C.L.E.A.R. Program, The New Jersey Herald created a full color, double page ad in 2016 and has continued to publish it free of charge. The Herald has also printed some of the students designs, spreading the message that help is available.
“Being in recovery today is more than a blessing. It’s a gift. I would not be able to say this if it weren’t for the C.L.E.A.R. Program. The day I went to the Newton Police Station was the day that saved my life.” TAYLOR GLASSER CLEAR PARTICIPANT
Mission Statement It is well-established that drug use and addiction is a major problem that impacts all of us on multiple levels; individuals, families and communities bear the many ill-effects that it has on our safety, health and the economy. The alarming reality of the heroin/opiate epidemic, in particular, has created an urgent need to work together to reverse these trends. We also recognize that for any anti-drug program to be effective, strong enforcement must be supported by an effort to reduce the demand for illegal substances and this is best accomplished through continued prevention education along with improved access to treatment and recovery support. The mission of the Sussex County C.L.E.A.R. program is to form a collaborative network of professionals in our community who will facilitate medical intervention, improved access to treatment and recovery support for those struggling with drug addiction who seek assistance, without fear of arrest or prosecution, in order to make a positive difference in the quality of life for individuals, families and our entire community.
Andover, Byram, Franklin, Hamburg, Hardyston, Newton, Ogdensburg, Sparta, and Vernon PDs
844-SC-CLEAR www.clearprogram.org @SussexCountyCLEAR