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 gained Assembly approval on Thursday.
The bill (A-3955) would require the development and maintenance of a database to advise the public about open bed availability in residential substance use disorder treatment facilities. Under the bill, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services would establish and oversee a public database that would track the number of open beds available for treatment in each facility that receives state or county funding.
"The fact that individuals who want treatment must repeatedly call multiple treatment centers to find out if beds are available - often to be rejected over and over again at a time when they are highly vulnerable - is 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 can be the difference between someone turning his or her life around and that person giving up out of sheer hopelessness."
The database, to be displayed on the Department of Human Services website and upon request via the addiction telephone hotline and 2-1-1, would 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 streamlining up-to-date information about drug treatment facilities, this measure will eliminate some of the frustration that currently plagues this process."
"For men and women dealing with substance abuse and their loved ones, 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 legislation presents a simple solution to a problem that is 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 bill's provisions 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 bill is about letting New Jersey residents struggling with substance abuse know that they will be supported in their efforts to get help."
The measure, which passed unanimously in the Assembly, now awaits further Senate consideration.