Posted Monday, October 10th, 2016

Eleven community groups and houses of worship have joined forces to shine a spotlight on the opioid addiction crisis, creating a series of upcoming programs to be held in Northeast Morris County to explain the problem and identify resources to help address it.

MORRIS-COUNTY-STIGMA-FREEThe first workshop, sponsored by the newly created Community Partners for Hope, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 7-9 p.m., at the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains, 529 Newark Pompton Turnpike, in Pequannock.

You can register online for the Oct. 18 workshop.

“Our goal is to educate the community about opioid addiction and to introduce them to resources, so they have places to turn for help,’’ said Doug Cook, a past president of the Pequannock Valley Rotary who is coordinating the Community Partners for Hope workshops. “This epidemic is everywhere,’’ Cook said.

An intensive countywide Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day effort, to call public attention to the opioid and addictions concerns, was held throughout Morris County last week.

The initiative had a dual purpose: to educate families of the addictive qualities of opioid pain medicines and their link to heroin abuse; and outreach to physicians and dentists who prescribe opiates, asking them to consider other therapies and treatment goals for patients, and to discuss with patients the pros and cons of opioids.

Opiates“This is part of what will be a continuing countywide effort to make the community even more aware of the crisis we are facing, one that threatens every single family in our community,’’ said Freeholder Hank Lyon, who participated in “Knock Out” events in Dover, Morristown, and Rockaway Township.

The Freeholders also have declared Morris County a “Stigma Free Community” to encourage persons dealing with addiction, and also also mental illness, to come forward for assistance without the negative stigma that can cause addicts to shy away from help that could lead to recovery.

For the Oct. 18 forum, Mary Vineis, director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge Services, has lined up experts on the opioid addiction crisis, including Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury and Dr. Phillip Devadan, medical director of Chilton Medical Center’s pediatric emergency department. Guests also will hear a first-hand account of how heroin addiction affected one family.

Pequannock Police also will have a mobile drop box at the site so residents can safely dispose of unused/expired prescription drugs.

A second Community Partners for Hope workshop — date yet to be announced — will focus on the “Hidden in Plain Sight” demonstration, in which experts help parents and other guardians identify signs of drug abuse using a mock teenager’s bedroom.

opiatesA third, on April 5, 2017, will feature former Boston Celtics player Chris Herren, who overcame heroin addiction and will give two presentations at Pequannock High School.

Nationwide, the rate of deaths caused by drug overdoses increased 14 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Jersey accounted for 1,253 of the 47,055 deaths caused by drug overdose in 2014.

Of the nearly 70,000 admissions for drug treatment in New Jersey in 2015, an estimated 40 percent involved heroin addiction and another 7 percent other opioid addictions, according to a June 2016 report issued by state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Community Partners for Hope grew out of the Grains of Hope, an initiative that draws 800 volunteers to pack more than 150,000 meals a year for the hungry. Grains of Hope has packed more than 678,000 meals in the five years since its creation. Recognizing the strength of the initiative, organizers looked to take on other community concerns.

The member organizations of Community Partners for Hope are: Chilton Medical Center; First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park and Montville; Holy Spirit Catholic Church; NewBridge Services; Pequannock Municipal Alliance; Pequannock Township Coalition; Suburban Woman’s Club of Pompton Plains; The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Saviour; and W/HIM Women’s Hands in Mission.

For more information, visit Grains of Hope of New Jersey on Facebook or email [email protected]