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Priests being trained to spot opioid addiction, get help

addiction, hands tied with drugs

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J-P Mauro - published on 06/06/23

Newark Archdiocese teaming with state. Cardinal sees need for greater support for adults struggling with opiate addiction who often turn to a parish seeking help.

The Archdiocese of Newark has partnered with the NJ Reentry Corporation (NJRC) to organize a unique program that will train priests to identify addicts and refer them to treatment services. The offered services are planned to provide help for individuals with substance disorders within 48 hours, which will include treatment and employment services to help recovering addicts get back on their feet. 

According to a press release, this addiction treatment referral program is set to begin on July 1, 2023.

The NJRC will provide voluntary training to priests within the Archdiocese of Newark, which will better inform them of the scope of the opioid crisis, methods of treatment, and ways to identify those in need of treatment.

Along with identifying and approaching possible addicts, priests will also be able to provide NJRC information to those who are interested in its services.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, said of the partnership:

“In these past several years, there have been approximately 3,000 overdose deaths annually in New Jersey due to the heroin, opioid, and fentanyl addiction crisis. The Archdiocese recognizes the need for greater resources and support for adults struggling with opiate addiction who often turn to a parish seeking help. This partnership between NJRC and the Archdiocese will provide an opportunity for our brothers and sisters to receive addiction treatment when in critical need. They will be connected to appropriate treatment services immediately following a referral from the Archdiocese.”

Those referred to the program will be put in contact with NJRC’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Carter, who will connect individuals with clinical professionals who will evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. Carter noted that the program is placing an emphasis on speed, vowing to have individuals in the program start their treatment within 48 hours of the referral. He listed some of the services the NJRC will offer: 

“These services will include intake processing, creating a personalized long-term treatment plan, detoxification, ambulatory withdrawal management, induction of anti-craving medications to aid in treating opioid substance abuse, residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and induction of medication-assisted treatment, as needed and appropriate.”

The NJRC will also follow up with individuals in the program after they have completed it. Where appropriate, individuals can be enrolled in NJRC’s Employment Orientation program to learn essential work skills and gain access to job-readiness workshops and assistance. Even those who do not enter the Employment Orientation program will be offered job training and employment services to help acclimate them to reentering society. The follow-ups are intended to help examine the viability of the program, as well as to ensure its lasting success.

NJRC Chair Jim McGreevey hailed the work of the Archdiocese of Newark in their collaboration. He said: 

“Thanks to Cardinal Tobin’s leadership and vision, we are taking a bold, immediate step to addressing the addiction crisis. So many families simply do not know where to turn in the midst of a suffering son or daughter. Now, parish priests, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers will have a referral source that will provide treatment within 48 hours. When someone is suffering and seeks help, we need to move quickly. As a result of this partnership, we are doing so.”

The Archdiocese of Newark and NJRC note that they are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of all referrals and will not use or authorize the use of any information except to fulfill the addiction treatment referral obligation. The partnership between the Archdiocese and NJRC is expected to be active for one year, with options to renew it annually.

Click here to learn more about the NJRC.

AddictionHealth and WellnessSocietyUnited States
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