NJ Substance Use: 4 Options Besides Calling the Police

If your friend or family member has substance use disorder (SUD), a mental illness, or both, it can be difficult to know if their behavior is stemming from their preexisting mental disorder or from substance abuse. Either or both factors can potentially lead to psychosis in many individuals. If you think the person might be a danger to themselves, it’s important to know how to respond.


According to the 2020 National Safety Gaps survey and study of over 4,000 Americans’ perceptions on safety policy, more than 75% of Americans support the use of trained non-police professionals as responders to mental health and substance use calls in lieu of police.

It sensibly follows that policy change would occur to prevent needless deaths and increase financial support for a much-needed emergency response system overhaul. Some major cities including Philadelphia and Los Angeles are working toward implementing trained crisis responders as initial responders for nonviolent mental health issues that are the reason for a sizable percentage of 911 calls. (According to data from eight cities from the Center for American Progress, roughly ¼ to over ⅓ of calls are categorized as nonurgent). Until policy catches up nationwide, what’s the best step for a crisis happening right now in New Jersey?


Making the Right Call

According to the director of Mental Illness Policy Org, DJ Jaffe, “911 should be the first resort in an immediate emergency and the last resort when it’s not.”

Police officers aren’t healthcare workers, and they never signed up to be. Instead of requesting armed individuals trained in the use of force (and untrained in mental health or substance use crisis response) to deal with a mental health or substance use crisis, there are almost always other options.

    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): An agency within the US Department of Health aimed at improving behavioral health. Their website includes a treatment finder as well as educational materials for addiction. The helpline is toll-free with 24-hour assistance available: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


    • New Jersey Connect For Recovery: Toll-free hotline with trained family and peer specialists to help with addiction management. Treatment is available through REACH NJ. (855) 652-3737. TTY: (877) 294-4356


    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Free, confidential, 24-hour support for crisis help and suicide prevention. 1-800-273-8255


  • Local Intervention Specialists: While this option may not be as quick as a hotline, qualified professionals may be able to help your loved one get the treatment they need for substance abuse for the longer term. Experience and qualifications may vary, so if time allows, speak with the professional to see if they are a good fit.

While you may already be familiar with some of these resources, it never hurts to have the numbers saved in your phone. You never know when you may need trained assistance for a mental health or substance use crisis at a moment’s notice.

Need an intervention specialist (Elizabeth NJ)? Seeking addiction treatment doesn’t have to be a hardship during an already difficult time. Addiction365 is available to help you or your loved one get on track to get their life back. 

If you want to get substance abuse treatment for you or your loved one, we have intervention specialists in Elizabeth, New Jersey, as well as several other states throughout the Northeast who can help. Call us today at (888)-972-8513.

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