Overdose Awareness Week, recognized by the White House as the week during which International Overdose Awareness Day is memorialized (Wednesday, August 31), is a time of remembrance and recommitment to preventing overdose and supporting people struggling with substance use and substance use disorder (SUD) within our communities, state, and across the United States and worldwide.
During Overdose Awareness Week and year-round, the Cooper Center for Healing mourns for the lives lost to overdose in New Jersey and worldwide; acknowledges and addresses grief and trauma of patients, providers, and staff; and remains ever-dedicated to the center vision: that all patients struggling with pain, psychological trauma, and/or substance use have a home within the medical system and routinely receive compassionate, evidence-based medical treatment, allowing them to live full and satisfying lives.
The confluence of the overdose crisis and novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID–19) pandemic crisis has devastated communities, with overdose deaths rising to over 100,000 deaths across the U.S. in 2021, as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Synthetic opioids, including illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs), continue to fuel the overdose crisis and are involved in nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths, as further reported by the NCHS. This simultaneous rise in overdose deaths and ongoing lack of access to evidence-based treatment, as indicated by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University, published in Health Affairs, intensifies the urgent need to increase access to lifesaving harm reduction strategies and medication for addiction treatment (MAT) across all communities. Thankfully, excellent treatment options are available at the Center for Healing, where a steadfast compassionate and empathetic culture rooted in health equity and humanism, envisioned and employed by the center’s physician leader, Kaitlan Baston, MD, DFASAM, in collaboration with the center’s clinical leadership, inspires a robust and multidisciplinary team of medical specialists in addiction medicine, toxicology, emergency medicine (EM) and emergency medical services (EMS), internal medicine, family medicine, and psychiatry who provide quality interdisciplinary specialty care in the hospital, ambulatory, and community settings. The center also has interdisciplinary clinical staff spanning behavioral health clinicians, nurses, and patient navigators who provide wraparound services for patients in a biopsychosocial model and help them to address social determinants of health (SDOH).
The Center for Healing provides innovative care for patients with SUD, in addition to pain, trauma, and psychiatric disorders, at outpatient treatment locations in Camden, Blackwood, and Pennsville. Inpatient treatment is available at Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper. Clinical services offered include both outpatient and inpatient specialty medical services through a variety of programs: transition care for people recently released from incarceration; an emergency department (ED) and hospital bridge program; a hospital consultation service; a low-barrier walk-in clinic; integrated addiction and infectious disease care; dual diagnosis psychiatric and addiction medical care; outpatient group and specialty medical visits; a wrap around perinatal program, Empowering Mothers to Parent and Overcome with Resilience (EMPOWR), for pregnant and parenting women struggling with substance use or SUD; full coverage services for SUD and mental health for uninsured people including those experiencing undocumentation; and other community-based work.
The Center for Healing is recognized by the State of New Jersey as a MAT Center of Excellence (COE). Through its COE designation, the center hosts Addiction Breakfast Clubs, consortia based in Camden County and other Southern New Jersey regions, open to all MAT providers and providers interested in practice implementation of MAT in addition to all community stakeholders supportive of MAT and harm reduction strategies. Through its recurring meetings, the group facilitates peer collaboration and patient referrals, and strategizes ways to improve integrated care across clinical and community-based settings. To join an Addiction Breakfast Club, please email Patricia Fortunato, Content Manager at the Center for Healing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday, August 31, for IOAD, the Ben Franklin Bridge, Florio Center, and City Hall in Camden will be lit in purple. The Camden County Remembrance and Hope Memorial Vigil, hosted by Center for Healing and COE community partner, the Camden County Board of Commissioners, will take place on this date at 7:30pm at Timber Creek Park located at 236 Taylor Avenue and Chews Landing Road in Blackwood. To learn more about the event or to share photos of loved ones to be remembered during the vigil, please visit bit.ly/CCIOAD22.
Also on this date, for IOAD, the Cape May County Overdose Awareness Memorial Vigil, hosted by Cape Addiction Recovery Services (CARES) at Cape Regional Medical Center, will take place at 6:30pm at the Wildwoods Convention Center located at 4501 Boardwalk. During the event, communities from across the county and Southern New Jersey region will remember loved ones victimized by the crisis and collaborate on overdose prevention strategies. The Center for Healing will be recognized during the event for dedication to the region and state through its COE, with gratitude to Rachel Haroz, MD, FAACT, Division Head of Toxicology and Addiction Medicine at Cooper and Community Relations Director at the Center for Healing, for clinical leadership, insight, and support across the region and state; to Erica Morrison, MPAS, PA–C, Advanced Practice Provider at the Center for Healing and who serves as Prescriber Lead for the Cape May County Addiction Breakfast Club, and through this work provides clinical leadership, insight, and support via linkages to care across the region; and to the entire Center for Healing team for dedication to team initiatives across the region and state. To learn more about the event or to share photos of loved ones to be remembered during the vigil, please visit bit.ly/CMCIOAD22.
Information About Substance Dependence and Substance Use Disorder
Substance Use Disorder (SUD): People can be diagnosed with a specific type of SUD based on the primary substance that they are experiencing issues with, such as opioid use disorder (OUD) or stimulant use disorder. Many patients with SUD experience issues with multiple substances (polysubstance use disorder).
Injection Drug Use (IDU): The overdose crisis—both on a statewide and national level—has also brought to light an increased and ongoing incidence of blood-borne infections, from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to viral hepatitis to bacterial infections. These infections are primarily borne from contaminated drug injection equipment and low vaccination rates among at-risk populations.
Fentanyl: Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is available in many derivatives of varying potency. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and is commonly used to treat severe pain and for end-of-life care. Non-pharmaceutical (illicit) fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin or cocaine.
Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT): FDA-approved medications can be used to safely and effectively treat OUD, and alcohol use disorder (AUD). MAT is clinically effective to help manage cravings and withdrawal, leading to long-term recovery.
Harm Reduction: For people who stop their treatment plan at any time, or who are not ready to stop using drugs, there are harm reduction strategies and resources to help keep them safe until they are ready to continue their treatment plan or begin a plan.
Sterile Needle and Syringe Access: Sharing needles, and using used needles, increases risk of diseases like HIV and hepatitis. It is critically important for people who inject drugs (PWID) to always use a new, sterile needle and syringe if they are going to inject drugs. Even reusing personal needles can cause damage to skin tissue and veins.
In New Jersey, pharmacies can sell up to two hypodermic needles and syringes, without a prescription, to customers 18 years or older who provide valid photo identification. (P.L.2011, c.183)
Individuals can exchange used supplies and obtain sterile supplies at local syringe services programs (SSPs). The Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) provides a mobile van at 2600 Mount Ephraim Avenue where individuals can obtain sterile needles and syringes, fentanyl test strips, condoms, and other lifesaving equipment and resources. Hours of operation are Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Naloxone and Overdose Prevention: All people who use drugs (PWUD), patients who are prescribed opioids, and loved ones should keep naloxone on them in case someone overdoses. The most common form is NARCAN® Nasal Spray. Naloxone is available with a prescription from providers, and over the counter in pharmacies in New Jersey. Additionally, the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition will mail intramuscular naloxone to those who cannot otherwise access it: nextdistro.org/njgate
Support is Available Through Cooper
Infectious Disease and Early Intervention Program
3 Cooper Plaza, Suite 513
Camden, NJ 08103
Scheduled Appointment Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 9:00am to 5:00pm
Addiction Medicine Consult Hours: Wednesdays, 9:00am to 5:00pm
HIV Testing Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 8:00am to 4:30pm
Camden Walk-In Clinic
3 Cooper Plaza, Suite 220
Camden, NJ 08103
Walk-In Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Walk-in patients are seen in order of arrival.
800 Cooper Street, 4th Floor
Camden, NJ 08102
Scheduled Appointment Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 9:00am to 5:00pm; Tuesdays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Cooper Primary and Specialty Care at Camden County College
200 College Drive, Polk Hall
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Scheduled Appointment Hours: Mondays from 9:00am to 5:00pm
Cooper Pennsville Primary Care
390 North Broadway, Suite 100
Pennsville, NJ 08070
Scheduled Appointment Hours: Tuesdays from 8:00am to 4:00pm
Clinical Services Offered at Camden, Blackwood, and Pennsville Locations Include:
- Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT)
- Empowering Mothers to Parent and Overcome with Resilience (EMPOWR) for Pregnant and Parenting Women Struggling with Substance Use or SUD
- Full Coverage Services for SUD and Mental Health for Uninsured People Including People Experiencing Undocumentation
Substance Dependence and SUD Inpatient Treatment Location
761 Cuthbert Boulevard
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
The Center for Healing, in partnership with Cooper Population Health, is offering SUD patients access to COVID–19 vaccinations and free transportation to and from scheduled vaccine appointments at the Camden County Health Hub, Cooper University Hospital Vaccination Center in Camden, and Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center. For more information about vaccines for COVID–19 or to make yourself or a loved one an appointment to get vaccinated, please visit bit.ly/VAX4ALL or call 1.800.8.COOPER (1.800.826.6737). When making an appointment, please ask about the free transportation option.