“No More Deaths”: Community Action Forum is next step in battling opioid epidemic
At his "No More Deaths" forum on Monday at Ocean County College in Toms River Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato and his office gave out "tool kits" to leaders from various religious groups and other organizations in hopes they'll pass the information along to their peers.
Education remains a vital tool in fighting New Jersey's drug epidemic and the next chapter opened up its pages on Monday with the distribution of these "tool kits".
Prosecutor Joe Coronato explained that these tool kits have it all and are very valuable in helping users find treatment and informing the rest of the community on the dangers not only heroin poses but opiate painkillers among other drugs.
"What we want to do is give them the necessary tools to make a difference," said Coronato. "This is law enforcement's attempt to save a life."
These "tool kits" are not only an educational measure but an informal one and a life saving guide to users looking for a way to break the cycle of addiction and find the light.
"Prevention is a key element of everything but we also want to show somebody whose in the midst of the cycle of addiction, that there is help where they can go to break the cycle of addiction," said Coronato.
While yesterday was the latest step, he explains that more needs to be done and they are constantly thinking of new ways to approach the epidemic.
"We're learning every single day," said Coronato. "We want to think outside the box. It's important for us to come up with new ideas and techniques. It's all about saving a life."
He says anyone who couldn't make it to OCC on Monday and would like more information or to receive their own "tool kit" to contact his office.
U.S. Shore Congressman Tom MacArthur (3rd-District) says these tool kits will certainly help but reminds everyone the fight isn't over yet.
"This is about peoples lives and families and communities that are being destroyed," said MacArthur. "We need to give every resource we can, there's simply no single answer to this."
MacArthur, who also co-chairs the Bi-Partisan Heroin Task Force alongside Democratic New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster, feels these ideas being created in Ocean County and New Jersey can also work on a national level.
"The national programs on drug control policy I think are an important part of that but most of the work gets done locally and in the state," said MacArthur. "I think that anything like this (tool kits) that can bring those resources together is pretty important."
He says recent testimony heard by his task force from people such as Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little are all important building blocks to use in ending the epidemic.
New Jersey State Attorney General Chris Porrino feels these tool kits are a vital part in finding people help and educating the community.
"These tool kits I think provide a really important resource for individuals who are leaders in our communities to go out and spread the word," said Porrino.
Inside these tool kits are a list of locations in the Ocean County Prosecutors Office 'Prescription Take Back Program', the Ocean County Mental Health Resource Directory, Ocean County's Health Departments 'Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Resource Directory', the Ocean County Prosecutors Office 'Blue Hart Program' which allows for users to turn in their stash and not face charges, an NJ Addiction Service Hotline provided by the Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care team and a handbook on treatment options for opioid users as well as information on what these drugs contain.
After that there are two DVD videos inside including one compiled of making the right decision when out and not succumbing to peer pressure and features a video with Ocean County native and MLB Network analyst Al Leiter.
The other was a video show in September at OCC and a DVD put together by the DEA and FBI in Washington showing the truth behind the narcotics and the dangers they impose as you'll hear from users themselves and family members explaining how the decision to do drugs was heartbreaking in the end.