Countywide summit on prescription pill, heroin abuse set for June 9

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

The Join Together Atlantic County Coalition Suburban Substance Abuse Summit 101 will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 9 at Egg Harbor Township High School. Everyone is welcome. The Join Together Atlantic County Coalition Suburban Substance Abuse Summit 101 will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 9 at Egg Harbor Township High School. Everyone is welcome.  "The reason I choose to get involved in this is simply because I felt Atlantic County was not together on this.”

– Bill Liddell

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – A coalition of agencies and organizations from around Atlantic County will come together to host a countywide summit on the ongoing trend of prescription drug and heroin abuse on Monday, June 9 at Egg Harbor Township High School.

The Join Together Atlantic County Coalition will host the Suburban Substance Abuse Summit 101: Prescription Use to Heroin Abuse from 6 to 8 p.m.

“One of our main goals is to reduce the abuse of prescription medication among Atlantic County residents,” said Laurie Smith, a member of the coalition and the community initiatives coordinator for Atlantic Prevention Resources. “Due to the recent increase in opiate overdoses, the coalition wanted to hold an event to bring attention to the link between prescription medication misuse and heroin use. Teens and adults are becoming addicted to prescription painkillers and turning to heroin at an alarming rate.  The community needs to be made aware of the issue and what they can do to help prevent this from happening in their family.”

The huge increase in the number of people addicted to pills and heroin includes those in their early teens, according to Tonia Ahern, a member of Parent to Parent, a participating organization that supports families “who are often shocked when they realize how far their child has progressed in drug use.

Out of state’s 565 towns, Atlantic County has four of the top 45 towns with the largest number of reported heroin and opiate cases in 2012: Atlantic City is ranked fourth and Egg Harbor Township is ranked 13th, followed by Galloway in 39th place and Somers Point in 41st place. 

“The overdose deaths in suburban areas are alarming and prevention and treatment needs to be a conversation in every community to save lives,” Ahern said.  “Join Together Atlantic County is working to stop the stigma often associated with substance use disorders and start the conversation about suburban drug use.”

Bill Liddell, student assistance coordinator for the Egg Harbor Township School District’s alternative high school, The Eagle Academy, said he jumped on the opportunity to participate in the upcoming summit because of a countywide lack of action on the epidemic.

“The reason I choose to get involved in this is simply because I felt Atlantic County was not together on this. I watched other counties have forums, workshops, town hall meetings, etc.,” Liddell said. “Attendance at these events included representatives from education, law enforcement, treatment, medical, political, parents and students. Having this summit will give us an opportunity to do this.

“The goal will be then to identify specific areas we can get solutions for as quickly as possible,” Liddell said. “An example: Why does every prescription have to be 30 pills, especially for anyone under the age of 18?”

Liddell said the summit will be held just in time for the schools to let out, a time when teenagers have more free time.

“The timing is good because we are entering the heavy tourist season and our schools will be closed,” he continued. “We all have to get the information out in order to keep a serious problem from getting worse. We hope this event will help people be more aware of what to monitor and what to look for in their home, neighborhood, etc.”

Michael T. DiMarco, director of admissions at Behavioral Crossroads LLC., said he is a parent and hopes to educate other Atlantic County parents on the real dangers of pill and opiate use.

“My son just turned 14,” he said. “I'm very worried about local overdoses and the fact that no one is talking about it. Parents should know how much opiate abuse is going on in their neighborhoods and communities."

Other parents, treatment professionals and educators will be joined by teens, recovering addicts, emergency medical responders and law enforcement representatives. The panel will be moderated by radio host Harry Hurley, who will also host a question and answer session.

The main goal is education, according to Alan Oberman, chief executive officer of the John Brooks Recovery Center.

"In order to slow down the heroin and subsequent overdose epidemic among young people, we must recognize this as a public health issue. The greatest obstacle is the stigma attached to addiction. The best approach to address stigma is education, hence the community meeting"

For more information, call Join Together Atlantic County at 609-272-0100 or see www.JTACNJ.org.

The forum is open and free to all Atlantic County residents 12 years old and older. Registration is not required.

Read more: 

Egg Harbor Township experiencing startling increase in heroin use

Other related heroin news


blog comments powered by Disqus