Ocean County's program allowing drug abusers to avoid prosecution by turning in their supplies and entering treatment gets a new identity, and expands into a third community.

Stafford Township joins Brick and Manchester Townships in the Blue HART (Blue Heroin Addiciton Recovery & Treatment) Program, County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said today.

The initiative had run under the acronym HARP, for Heroin Addiction Response Program, since its inception in January of this year.

Stafford enters the program on May 23, partnering with Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville. Brick Township Police are affiliated with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood. Manchester Police are aligned with Integrity House in Toms River.

Coronato said that, effective next week, immediate help to overcome drug addiction becomes available on Tuesdays in Stafford, Wednesdays in Manchester and Thursdays in Brick.

"To date, Brick and Manchester Police Departments have accounted for over 160 participants accepted into the program thanks to the generous commitment of Behavioral Health and Integrity House," Coronato said in prepared comments.

"Bringing the partnership of Stafford PD and Ocean Mental Health into the program is a great step in expanding options to those in Ocean County seeking addiction help."

Under the Blue HART program, anyone who voluntarily seeks help in fighting substance abuse, through one of the three departments, is immediately reviewed for potential participation.

Willing participants can either travel to police headquarters or encounter a patrol officer elsewhere. Once screening is complete, police arrange transportation to a designated treatment center.

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