Most people are aware of the alarming opiate and opioid addiction problem in our local communities. The news is filled with stories of lives lost or ruined by drugs, and the impact on families and society. In New Jersey the problem is particularly acute, with the death rate from heroin at more than three times the national average, and an overdose problem that claimed more than 1,200 lives in 2014 alone.

Sadly, this problem touches us all. Some of us may have friends, neighbors or even family members who have been devastated by the scourge of addiction.

This week we begin a series of articles in the hopes of slowing the advance of this addiction epidemic by casting a spotlight on efforts to fight back. Because despite the rising tide of hopelessness and despair, we can also report that time, energy and resources are being brought to bear by people who are determined to not give in.

Through law enforcement, social services, school or parental interventions, dedicated people in the community are getting after it, determined to be part of the solution to the addictions problem.

New laws are being enacted, teachers and coaches at schools are connecting with students, doctors are changing their approach – all in an effort to get help for the addicted or to prevent addiction before it starts.

Our series is not about the addictions problem, it’s about the possible solutions to it. It’s an effort to bring those efforts together in one place as a community resource. In the coming weeks we will be pooling our editorial resources and sharing ideas about methods, programs, people and interventions that are showing promise for having a positive impact.

The spirit of this series is captured in a quote from Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, who is supporting a bill in Trenton aimed at preventing people with addiction problems from being prescribed drugs that are addictive.

He said, “If we can save one person from becoming addicted, it’s worthwhile to me.”

We agree 100 percent. If our series can reach one person or one family, or cast light on one life-saving response, the effort will have been well worth it.

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