Residents plan to take action against addiction in Cape May County

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Area residents took part in a drug addiction forum Thursday night. Area residents took part in a drug addiction forum Thursday night.

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — The battle against drug addiction in Cape May County is now in the hands of the people.

Heroin is the main target.

Several area residents signed up to be part of subcommittees following the Community Action Against Addiction forum Thursday, March 6, at the Cape May County administration building in Middle Township. The four groups are focused on research and advocacy; prevention and education; treatment; and recovery support.

Cape May County Freeholder Kristine Gabor said it’s now up to the people to take the fight to the next level.

The first forum in September spotlighted the problem of drug addiction in the county. Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor said that the top drug in the county is heroin, and that there were several heroin overdoses last year. Some were fatal.

That forum in the late summer focused on the services available to help addicts recover. Those who experienced drug addiction took up most of the second meeting.

The March 6 forum concentrated on what came out of the second meeting and forming subcommittees.

Part of the event resembled a game show. A big screen displayed the different topics of battling drug addiction, and those who attended the hour-and-a-half forum used remotes to select areas the subcommittees should zero in on.

It looks like the subcommittees will initially look at establishing a recovery center; as well as relapse prevention treatment programs; investigate the possibility of an engagement or hold-over program for those waiting for detox; availability of residential treatment in the county and region; activities that would provide alternatives to drugs; and whether more drug treatment could be covered by insurance, along with other topics.

After the forum Thursday, March 6, Damien Loatman of Ocean City registered to serve on the recovery support group.

He said he’d like to see more public awareness about drug addiction.

Loatman said twelve-step programs would be beneficial, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The first step in AA is admitting that one has a problem and is powerless over it.

In addition, Loatman would love to see the stigma of drug addiction disappear.

Loatman did not want to give specifics on his tie to drug addiction, whether he knows someone battling it or he is or has.

A Dennis Township woman, who did not want her name used, said better drug addiction treatment is needed in the county, something that is more accessible in times of crisis.

There also needs to be better prevention systems, and help to make sure that recovering addicts continues to receive treatment.

Laurie Mitchell of Corbin City signed up for the research and advocacy group.

She said she has a family member who has dealt with drug problems but declined to go into specifics. She is a member of Parent-to-Parent, a group that advocates for addicts and their families.

Mitchell wants to look at two research and advocacy aspects. She said he would like to see charges be expunged if people complete drug court.

She also said she believes parents should be able to obtain information on children at treatment centers. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requirements keep medical records private, but officials said they want to see if there is a workaround for parents of young adults.

Another county drug forum is expected in June. In the meantime, the subcommittee will meet regularly.

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