(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Raj Mukherji to help more individuals struggling to overcome substance abuse receive the treatment they need was signed into law Tuesday.
The new law (formerly A-3955) requires the development and maintenance of a database to advise the public about open bed availability in residential substance use disorder treatment facilities. The state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will create and oversee a public database that tracks the number of open beds available for treatment in each facility that receives state or county funding.
“The fact that individuals who want treatment had to repeatedly call multiple treatment centers to find out if beds were available – often to be rejected over and over again at a time when they are highly vulnerable – was a significant failing in our health care system,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Having a one-stop resource that makes clear exactly where to find immediate openings will be the difference between someone turning his or her life around and that person giving up out of sheer hopelessness.”
The database will be accessible on the Department of Human Services (DHS) website, and by request via the addiction telephone hotline and 2-1-1 service. It will include, by county:
the address and telephone number of the facility;
a description of the services the facility provides;
the licensed bed capacity of the facility; and
the number of open beds available for treatment.
“New Jersey has a duty to ensure that those who need help can access the necessary resources,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By providing up-to-date information about drug treatment facilities, we can eliminate some of the frustration that had previously plagued this process.”
“For men and women dealing with substance abuse, admitting to having a problem is a very difficult first step that often is followed by feelings of helplessness and exasperation,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This law provides them, and their families, with an elegant solution to a problem that had been far too common.”
“Indifference to any factor that serves as a hindrance to drug rehabilitation in New Jersey is unacceptable,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This database will ensure that the runaround of contacting center after center is no longer a part of the recovery process in New Jersey.”
“No one can overcome addiction alone, nor should they have to,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “At its core, this is about letting New Jersey residents struggling with substance abuse know that they will be supported in their efforts to get help.”