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(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The Freeholder Board, county Addiction Awareness Task Force and Camden County College have created a new Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 16.2.07program to fill a significant need in the battle against the scourge of opioids and heroin. The Human Services and Behavioral Science Department at Camden County College is now offering a certification program for individuals who wish to provide an essential resource for those recovering from overdose and addiction by becoming Certified Peer Recovery Specialists.

Beginning this month, recovery specialists who are tantamount to New Jersey’s Opiate Overdose Recovery Program (OORP) are responding at all four health systems in Camden County. These individuals are the first social service responder once someone has been medically cleared from an overdose in one of our healthcare systems.

“The only other certification program in New Jersey is in Passaic, and that’s a really long way to go for someone who wants to help their peers in this community,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “Peer recovery specialists are regular people who are in recovery themselves and want to act as a friend and role model to someone who’s just beginning to seek help. They provide strength, hope and inspiration to their peers and show that recovery is possible.”

Peer counseling is a powerful agent for change, and for the first time since the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services first funded OORP in 2015, the CRPS program at Camden County College makes it possible for persons throughout South Jersey and in recovery to easily become certified peer recovery specialists.

For those who decide to continue their studies, the CRPS certification at CCC will count towards the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Program as well.

“Not only does this provide another opportunity for those in recovery who want to help others, but it ensures that an essential resource for recovery is available throughout South Jersey,” Cappelli said. “By offering this certification program close to home, we can increase the number of CRPS specialists who are available to respond to overdoses in our area and fill a wide gap that exists when it comes to post-overdose services.”

Camden County College President Donald Borden also talked about the college’s commitment to ending the opioid epidemic and acting as a resource for all of Camden County.

“More than 115 people die every day from an opioid overdose in America. Offering this program is about so much more than education, it’s about developing an innovative solution to a problem that is affecting the county, and really the nation as a whole,” Borden said. “At Camden County College, we’re constantly exploring new ways to support our students and the communities they come to us from.”

The basic philosophy of the CRPS program is that it is easier to communicate with someone who lived through and survived some of the same events or experiences. Peer counseling takes place in a one-on-one, confidential setting and creates a special bond of trust between two individuals. This relationship adds an “assist” for individuals with limited resources to navigate a complicated system of care, and it offers an opportunity for CPRS specialists to achieve a greater level of self-sufficiency as they become a role model for their peers.

For prospective students interested in this certification please contact Addiction Counseling Program Director, LeRoy Stanford Jr., at (856) 227-7200 ext. 4546 or through email at lstanford@camdenccc.edu.

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