Melissa O'Mara, Esq.
Melissa O’Mara is a licensed attorney in the State of New Jersey and a person in long term abstinence based recovery from drugs and alcohol since August 30, 2011. A 2014 graduate of Centenary University and a 2017 graduate of New England Law | Boston, Melissa is a committed legal professional and an addiction recovery advocate dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis.
Melissa oversees multiple deflection and diversion programs including self-referral programs within police departments (PAARI/Straight to Treatment), 24/7 response teams that dispatch with law enforcement and peer recovery coaches, before or after arrest, to provide peer support, as well as various other first responder deflection and diversion initiatives.
Melissa also teaches the "5 Minutes to Help Program" through the New Jersey Department of Health which trains NJ emergency medical providers and other first responders to combat stigma, utilize motivational interviewing , and provide warm hand-offs to services for those they encounter who suffer an opioid overdose. She also trains peer recovery coaches, through the New Jersey Prevention Network, on how peers can effectively build, enhance, and effectively participate in first responder deflection and diversion programs.
Melissa’s goal in her legal career is to use the justice process to hold offenders responsible while also supporting rehabilitation by providing people multiple intervention points and a variety of pathways to recovery and wellbeing.
Workshop Session 4
Front Line Collaborations: Peer Recovery Support and Law Enforcement
Both Peer Recovery Support Services and Law Enforcement are responding on the front lines to the opioid Epidemic, recognizing that substance use disorder impacts the community on multiple levels including public health and public safety. In this session, we will highlight the collaborative approach between peer recovery support services and law enforcement agencies working together, to ensure equitable access to recovery support within the communities they serve. We will look at how the programs are meeting the unique needs of the community, the successes, the challenges, and how a network of professionals are utilizing best practices to reshape the landscape of recovery support accessibility in the state of NJ. With the assistance of federal and state funding, some counties are continuing to operate traditional, arrest-based programs, while others have chosen to proactively link individuals living with substance use disorder to treatment and/or recovery services through non-arrest modules such as mobile vehicles, on-scene response teams, Superior Court or Municipal Court programs, and direct “boots on the ground” outreach to localized areas and to those identified as most at-risk of overdosing. The Panel Discussion is with leaders working within these collaborative programs between peer recovery support services and law enforcement within New Jersey. All Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about these valuable resources and their impact on communities while interacting with the panelists.
This workshop is approved for 1-hour Renewal Credit/CEU for: IC&RC/NJ-AP Certification Board | NAADAC