Prominent sports figures from Ocean County will help the Prosecutor's Office continue spreading its anti-drug message at another free forum in Toms River.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronado and Richie Sambora
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronado and Richie Sambora (Al Della Fave)

Al Della Fave, Public Information Officer for the Prosecutor's Office, said Special Guest Speakers include former NFL players Keith Alias and Ray Lucas, Major League Baseball star Todd Frazier of the Cincinatti Reds, Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Frankie Edgar, former U.S. Olympic Basketball Player Erin Cowley, and former Major League Soccer Player Tony Meola.

"They're going to come out and talk about how they were able to do it all and do it clean," said Della Fave.

Past forums included parents of drug addicts and former Bon Jovi Band member, Guitarist Richie Sambora, discussing the dangers of drugs, but Della Fave said they decided to shift the focus to sports by holding a "Playing It Clean" forum.

"With the issues you've seen up in the Sayreville area, with the high school football team and some of the drug problems, we felt it's important we start to dabble in this area," Della Fave said, pointing out that in addition to steroids, pain killers also are a very big issue with sports figures who may be inclined to abuse the prescription drugs to continue playing through pain.

Having local sports figures who have managed to rise to the top drug-free is a different tact the Prosecutor's Office is hoping will resonate with student-athletes in middle and high school.

"Just look at Todd Frazier. Here's a fellow who was on the Toms River Little League All-star Team that won the World Series, then he goes on to Major League Baseball, become and All-star there and just last year he was in the Home Run Derby and came in second. That's an amazing accomplishment when you think about the talent in the Major League Baseball area," said Della Fave.

Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Anthony V. Pierro with the Juvenile Justice Division, as well as Doctors Tony Juneja and Gabriel P. Jasper, will be at the forum.

Ocean County had 86 overdose deaths in 2014 compared to 112 in 2013, according to Della Fave.

"That number may go up within the next three weeks," he said. "Whenever we have an overdose, we have to wait for the Medical Examiner to confirm whether it was caused by the drug. So, within the next three or four weeks we may get back an additional four or maybe five individuals that are confirmed to be drug overdoses."

Della Fave also pointed out the County had 129 drug overdose reversals during 2014, which he said shows the problem really has not gotten any better, even with everything the Prosecutor's Office has been doing.

A second initiative underway by the Prosecutor's Office is aimed at helping drug overdose victims saved with Narcan, or Naloxone, which reverses the effects of Opioids, get help from certified counselors with the Barnabas Health System directly at the hospital before being released. From there they would enter a rehab program.

Those who attend the forum will be able to get information on where to get Detox and Rehab help for loved ones.

Pre-registration is not required for the January 15 event. It's being held at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


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