People with addiction and substance-abuse issues can now turn themselves in to police in Little Egg Harbor and get into treatment after Ocean County expanded its Blue HART program in February.

Little Egg Harbor police became the seventh participating police department in the Blue HART (Heroin Addiction Recovery Treatment) program, which allows substance users to turn in themselves and any drug-use products at police stations to get addiction treatment without any threat of charges or jail.

The program, the first of its kind in New Jersey, was developed by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in January 2017 and includes police departments in Brick Township, Lacey Township, Manchester Township, Ocean Gate, Point Pleasant Borough and Stafford Township.

“Since January, Blue HART has helped over 300 individuals to successfully fight the curse of addiction,” Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said in a statement. “Our county leads the state in providing lifesaving options to those fighting and seeking addiction help.”

Ocean County has some of the highest rates in the state of addicted people and overdose deaths linked with heroin or fentanyl use. The county saw 253 people die from drug-related deaths in 2016, state reports show.

Prosecutor’s Office officials said they hope programs and services such as Blue HART will lead to a decline in overdose deaths and a decreased need for naloxone, or Narcan.

The police departments refer Blue HART participants to mental-health and addiction-treatment providers like Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville, Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood and Integrity House in Toms River.

Participants who voluntarily go to police for help with addiction to heroin and other opioids are screened at provider agencies to see if they qualify for treatment within the program, officials said.

Officers also have the discretion to refer people they encounter outside the police station who they believe could benefit from the Blue HART program, officials said.

For more information on the program and participating police departments, visit