Newswise — New Brunswick, NJ— The N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) has awarded a $385,000 grant to Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Division of Addiction Psychiatry to conduct opioid and naloxone trainings for the state’s employment program for individuals affected by the opioid epidemic.

The state’s Opioid Recovery Employment Program, known as Pathways to Recovery, focuses on training opportunities, supportive services and employment for individuals impacted by the opioid epidemic in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, each of which has seen increases in overdose deaths, opioid admissions, naloxone administrations, and demand for treatment. 

As part of this new funding, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School addiction psychiatry health educators will train employers within those six counties, as well as the staff of the state’s One-Stop Career Centers and Department of Labor and Workforce Development central office, to educate them about opioid use and the opioid epidemic, as well as provide them with naloxone kits and training for use in the event of an overdose. 

The grant will help address a growing need in light of the worsening opioid crisis, notes Dr. Nina Cooperman, associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. In 2018, New Jersey recorded the most drug overdose deaths in one calendar year (3,163), according to LWD, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that the state had one of the highest increases of such deaths in the country, up 21 percent between January 2017 and January 2018. In the targeted six counties, opioid overdose deaths have risen by between 38 percent (Ocean County) and 155 percent (Atlantic County) since 2015, LWD indicated. 

“This training program will help educate employers and the people involved in assisting individuals who are affected by opioid use to not only understand opioid use disorders and the epidemic, but also better identify and respond if an individual overdoses,” explains Dr. Cooperman, who is leading the initiative for the medical school’s addiction psychiatry division. “With the additional naloxone training and support in rescue breathing techniques, they will be in a position to save people who may relapse. It also will allow them to provide greater support to those who are in recovery to get back into the workforce and thrive.” 

The division expects to train approximately 1,000 employers, Pathways to Recovery grantees and staff in on-site training sessions, as well as via a webinar for individuals who are unable to attend in person, Dr. Cooperman says. The first of the on-site sessions is anticipated to be held this fall. 

In addition to the on-site and online training, the Division of Addiction Psychiatry will observe Pathways to Recovery grantee programs to craft a white paper discussing best practices in the field. The division also will create and distribute a survey for grantees to administer to the individuals participating in the program, and subsequently analyze the results of those surveys, to better assess how the initiative is working. 

The Division of Addiction Psychiatry previously received funding from the state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to help support opioid use disorder and naloxone training in a variety of settings; this training has been under way for the past two years.


About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. Part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, and hosts centers and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, and the Women’s Health Institute. The medical school has been recognized by U.S. News & World Reportas among the top 100 medical schools in the nation for research and primary care.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility and the medical school’s principal affiliate, comprise one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. Clinical services are provided by more than 500 faculty physicians in 200+ specialties and subspecialties as part of Rutgers Health, the clinical arm of Rutgers University. Rutgers Health is the most comprehensive academic health care provider in New Jersey, offering a breadth of accessible clinical care throughout the state supported by the latest in medical research and education.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. With more than 5,500 alumni since the start of its first class in 1966, the medical school has expanded its comprehensive programming and educational opportunities and is at the forefront of innovative curriculum development and a visionary admissions program. To learn more about Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School,