The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office fight against heroin continues with another drug forum next month, expected to be powerful enough to get younger audience members wanting to continue the discussion, according to Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Anthony V. Pierro. 

Townsquare Media News

The free event will feature two inspirational stories. Gabriel Hurley, a Middlesex County man indirectly impacted by drugs, will share "Unbreakable," and NBA player Chris Herren will discuss his personal recovery about life after addiction.

"Gabriel's story is really designed to tell us how drug addiction affects everyone in the community, even if they themselves are not dealing with the substance abuse issues or their family members are not dealing with the substance abuse issues. Gabriel was affected by another person who he did not know, who was driving another vehicle on the opposite side of the road. When that car collided with another car, that resulted in Gabriel suffering some very, very significant injuries and he talks about that," said Pierro.

Herren's story is intended to send a message that there is hope in addiction recovery.

"His presentation is moving, it's inspirational, but at the same time it shows us that despite the issues that we deal with when we're dealing with substance abuse or family members are dealing with substance abuse, that there is hope, that there is a life in recovery, that there are things that we can do once we're seeing that affect of substance abuse on ourselves or on our loved ones. We don't want people to give up. We don't want people to think that there is no hope, because there is," Pierro said.

While Narcan is helping lower the number of heroin-related overdose fatalities in Ocean County, the number of opiate-related incidents is still much higher than it should be, according to Pierro.

"Our goal here has always been, not one more, to have nobody who's overdosing on opiates and  heroin," he said.

Life style change and behavioral change are among the aspects of recovery Herren is expected to touch upon.

"There are some things that he [Herren] did in the throws of addiction that people would think , you wouldn't be able to recover from, and I think that's what's so inspiring about his story is that you can and you should continue to fight and get into treatment and make sure that you are drug free, because there is life ahead," said Pierro. He added Herren does a great job of showing that despite the impacts drugs have had on his career and personal life, he is now in recovery and committed to that.

Due to the nature of the heavy content that will be presented, the Prosecutor's Office is asking parents to use their judgement and recommends bringing children in sixth grade or older.

"It will have an impact. This is something that you should escort your children to because it will lead to discussions," noted Pierro.

The free drug forum is being held May 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pine Belt Arena, on the campus of Toms River High School North on Old Freehold Road. No registration is required.