Prosecutor: Operation Helping Hand helped disrupt cycle of addiction

Resource: Prosecutor: Operation Helping Hand helped disrupt cycle of addiction (

Gubir Grewal, the state Attorney General nominee, wants to make Operation Helping Hand a state-wide program

Matt Albanese (30) of Cliffside Park who was picked up for heroin possession during April’s Operation Helping Hand, which was done by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Albanese has stayed clean since his arrest after seven years of addiction.
Mitsu Yasukawa/
  • Matt Albanese is one of those people. He remains clean today.
  • Yet, there were 495 reported (403 related to opioids) overdoses in Bergen County during 2017.
  • 120 people died from overdoses in bergen County in 2017 and 295 people were saved with anti-overdose drugs.
  • Last spring, 42 people were arrested in Operation Helping Hand, and 31 took drug rehab help.

The sun-drenched spring morning started well for Matt Albanese. 

He and a friend had scored heroin near Madison Avenue in Paterson, and Albanese, of Cliffside Park, shot three bags’ worth as he snaked his Jeep back toward Route 80. 

He thought they were safe when they reached the highway, but then an unmarked police SUV pulled him over near the Saddle Brook Dunkin’ Donuts. As the police lights glittered in his rearview mirror, Albanese knew police would find what was left of their stash. That meant another arrest — his second in seven days for heroin possession — and another trip in front of a judge.

“The only thing going through my head was, ‘Holy [expletive], I’m getting arrested again,” Albanese said.