Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer is proud to announce another innovative program to combat substance use disorder in Ocean County.   “First Step” is an Ocean County Prosecutor led opioid overdose reversal and linkage program made possible through Operation Helping Hand grant funding through the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.  First Step is currently operational in Lacey Township and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is collaborating with the Lacey Township Police Department and Ocean Mental Health services. 

“The goal of the ‘First Step’ program is to link individuals that have overdosed with immediate linkage to peer recovery specialists and clinicians from Ocean Mental Health Services.  We have been working with Chief Michael DiBella and the Lacey Township Police Department and with Ocean Mental Health Services to assist individuals that have overdosed to help them navigate the treatment process,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

“First Step” is currently operational in Lacey Township where staff are available to respond to individuals who have overdosed and are interested in treatment services.  “First Step” personnel includes, but is not limited to, a detective from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, a licensed clinician, case manager and certified peer recovery specialists provided by Ocean Mental Health Services. 

“’First Step’ acknowledges that the first step in engaging in or seeking treatment if often the most difficult.  We are really trying to meet people where they are and offer them the help they need.  Natural intersections between law enforcement, service providers and those in need will continue to be our North Star.  I am hopeful that ‘First Step’ will be successful and we can expand into other municipalities after we see some positive outcomes,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

“We are painfully aware that many drug overdoses are fatal.  Surviving family members are often left lost, heartbroken and struggling to pick up the pieces.  With these family members in mind, we designed ‘First Step’ to provide linkage for surviving family members to immediate peer support, guidance and recovery. ‘First Step’ gives individuals and their families the tools they need to battle substance abuse disorder and the collateral damage the disorder brings to the whole family,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Renee White and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Offenders Unit, the Lacey Township Police Department and Ocean Mental Health Services for their collaborative efforts relative to “First Step” and for working tirelessly to ensure that individuals battling addiction and substance abuse disorder are given the opportunity to access treatment vital to their recovery.