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‘Community in Crisis’ Town Hall June 26 to Address Drug Use Among Local Adolescents

Brenda A. Nemcek

Thursday, June 26, 2014 • 6:13am

SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - On Thursday, June 26, community agencies, organizations, schools, churches and parent coalitions will convene at the Bernards High School Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. for a town hall-style meeting called "Community in Crisis."
 
At the meeting, a multifaceted plan, designed to address the prescription drug and heroin/opiate epidemic among adolescents in hopes of reducing the number of fatal overdoses, will be presented. All members of the community are encouraged to attend.
 
Use of heroin and other opiates has become the number one health care crisis confronting New Jersey, according to a report by the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Task Force. Drug overdoses now surpass the number of deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents.
 
“The time has come to take action. We are becoming painfully aware of the dramatic increase in heroin/opiate addiction. This epidemic crosses all socio-economic barriers in our community, it’s growing, and people are dying,” commented Jody D’Agostini, Board Chair at the Somerset Hills YMCA and concerned citizen. “We applaud community members and organizations for banding together to raise awareness about the prevalence of these drugs and the measures that can be taken to safeguard our kids. Our hope is that this kickoff event will now unite everyone in a shared vision and rally the community through a common goal - to save the lives of our own children.”
 
All members of the community are encouraged to attend the ‘Community in Crisis’ meeting to hear from professionals and those affected by addiction. Key stakeholders for this initiative will present a community action plan that has been designed based on the evidence-based NJ Governor's 2014 report, "Confronting New Jersey’s NEW Drug Problem: A Strategic Action Plan to Address a Burgeoning Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Among Adolescents and Young Adults.” Members of the community will be invited to volunteer as ‘agents of change’ for one of seven working groups that will facilitate the plan within the community.
 
The working groups that will be presented at the event are: Parents, Schools and the Municipal Alliance; Healthy, Connected and Engaged Community; Fund Raising and Grants; Public Policy Support and Community Education; Mental Health and Addiction Support; Physician Outreach; Law Enforcement and EMTs. 
 
“In order to affect change, we all must work together with a comprehensive approach. It will truly take a village. I encourage one and all to come to the meeting – this is a real opportunity to make a difference before these drugs claim more lives in our community,” added Jody D’Agostini.
 
For more information or to get involved, please contact Andi Williams, V.P. of Strategic Partnerships at the Somerset Hills YMCA at awilliams@somersethillsymca.org, or 908.630 3526, or visit www.somersethillsymca.org.
 
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