Menendez Visits John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic County to Underscore Why we Need All Hands on Deck to Fight Opioid Crisis, Help Individuals and Families Struggling with Addiction

Menendez Visits John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic County to Underscore Why we Need All Hands on Deck to Fight Opioid Crisis, Help Individuals and Families Struggling with Addiction


PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today visited John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic County to discuss New Jersey’s response to the opioid crisis and his work in fighting for federal resources and legislation to bolster efforts in helping individuals and families struggling with addiction. 

“We get it. Opioid abuse does not discriminate. It destroys lives and families from all walks of life, impacting our friends, neighbors and loved ones,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Tackling this epidemic is an all-hands-on-deck situation and I have been fighting to do my part in Washington to deliver for New Jersey, especially our children.

I’m especially proud that the president just signed the Opioid Crisis Response Act which includes several provisions I wrote that are informed by my discussions and meetings with key partners like JBRC all across the state.” 



“During this opioid epidemic, now more than ever we need political leaders who can listen to the needs of both clients and providers, ask important questions and produce positive results. Senator Menendez has been doing just that since the very early days of the opioid epidemic,” said Mike Santillo, John Brooks Recovery Center’s executive director of operations.



Because of the Senator’s work, the new law provides states with greater flexibility to broaden treatment options and supports family-focused treatment programs to keep children out of foster care while a parent gains the tools necessary to succeed in recovery.  It also includes a measure introduced with Senator Booker which builds upon St. Joe’s innovative approach in finding pain management alternatives that are dramatically reducing the use of opioids in their emergency rooms.

During his visit, Sen. Menendez heard from clients of the Center who are in recovery.

Rosa has been in recovery for over five years. She had struggled with an addiction to heroin, cocaine and pills. She got on the path to recovery when she was in JBRC’s residential treatment. She currently runs a peer support group at JBRC, among other community involvement efforts, helping others on their path to recovery. 


Giovanni has been in recovery for one year. He had struggled with a physical and emotional addiction to heroin. He was on probation for 2 years but violated it. He is glad he got on drug court since he never wanted to go to prison. His father had been absent and he is now a dad of a 7-year-old boy.



Michelle has been in recovery for about two years. She had struggled with opiates, (Percoset) and heroin. A staff member of JBRC had reached out to Michelle to let her know about the recovery program. She had been living on the streets and JBRC’s outpatient program gave her the tools to keep from returning to that life. She would one day like to open a sober living home.



The Senator also fought President Trump and Republican efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act and turn Medicaid into a block grant.   An Urban Institute report found that no other state would be hit harder by this plan than New Jersey. We would lose $31 billion over the next decade, jeopardizing coverage for seniors, disabled Americans, children, and people struggling with addiction.

Senator Menendez’s work on tackling opioid and addiction crisis also includes:

Securing millions for NJ

Fought for and won a $3.3 billion increase in funding to combat the opioid and mental health crises for FY18

In September, New Jersey Department of Health received $3,412,500 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work to prevent opioid-related overdoses, deaths, and other outcomes. The Department of Health also received $21,566,035 million in a State Opioid Response Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the state’s response efforts and expand access to treatment and recovery services.  Several Federally Qualified Health Centers received a total of $5,633,509 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety was awarded nearly $3 million in federal funding to bolster law enforcement efforts in cracking down on the illegal distribution of heroin, meth, and other opioids across the state. The Center for Family Services in Camden was awarded $750,000 to provide services to children impacted by the opioid crisis from the Department of Justice.

Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 – Menendez-authored components

Improving Recovery and Reunifying Families Act

  • Helps reunify families by reducing the time kids spend in foster care while their parents get treatment. This bill embraces a “recovery coach model” and creates a national pilot reunification program where caseworkers assist parents throughout the recovery process. It is based on an Illinois recovery program that has been shown to reduce the length of time children spend in foster care.
  • New Jersey has the ability to leverage its experience with peer coaches, home visiting and support services programs to help parents with substance use disorder manage their recovery and keep families intact.

Supporting Family Focused Residential Treatment Act

  • Allows children to remain with their family while their parents seek treatment in residential treatment facilities so children don’t have to go into foster care. States like New Jersey will be able to use Medicaid and Federal Foster Care Program (Title IV-E) funding to do this.

The Building Capacity for Family-Focused Residential Treatment Act

  • Provides $20 million for eligible states, counties, local child welfare agencies, treatment service providers and private non-profit organizations to offer evidence-based and family-focused residential treatment and prevention programs so children can reside with their parents or guardians who are receiving treatment.

Securing Flexibility to Treat Substance Use Disorders Act

  • Allows New Jersey to fund inpatient psychiatric care at certain facilities for the first time.
  • Allows states to fund up to 15 days of inpatient treatment services and inpatient psychiatric care for patients suffering from substance use disorders.
  • The bill provides an exception to a rule under current law that blocks Medicaid from paying for this kind of treatment if a facility has more than 16 beds. New Jersey currently has a waiver to do this already to treat substance use disorders, but this bill would also allow Medicaid dollars to be used for inpatient psychiatric care.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs Enhancement Act (OATPEA)

  • Requires an annual report from CMS with data on opioid issues in Medicaid that would be available to third party researchers.

Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act (ALTO) – with Senator Booker

  • Supports hospitals and emergency departments in identifying and implementing best practices for alternatives to the use of opioids. It would establish a national demonstration program, based on the successful program implemented at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in 2016, to test alternative pain management protocols to limit the use of opioids in hospital emergency departments nationwide.   In just two years since implementing ALTO, St. Joe’s has successfully reduced opioid prescriptions in their emergency room by 82%.

Opioid Action Plan

  • Requires the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to develop and opioid action plan including recommendations on changes to the programs that would improve access to medication-assisted treatment.

Neonatal Abstinence Intervention

  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to release best practices to improve care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome.


Senator Menendez worked with Senator Booker and U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (NJ-01) to expand the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), a federal drug prevention program within the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to include Atlantic County.  The designation allows Atlantic County to receive federal assistance through the HIDTA program to combat the opioid epidemic. The Liberty Mid-Atlantic HIDTA received $980,396 in discretionary funding for FY18, the largest ever. Within that allocation, $150,000 in federal funding will be used to combat the opioid epidemic and further the coordination and development of drug control efforts among federal, state, local law enforcement officials in Atlantic County.


In 2016 Senator Menendez helped pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which was the largest federal legislation addressing a drug epidemic in 40 years. It authorized $181 million in new funding to reduce opioid abuse.

He helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) which increased federal funding to $1 billion to states to use to develop initiatives to reduce substance abuse over 2017 and 2018.