Category Archives: Blog
40 Pequannock Township High School students placed 500 pinwheels across the front lawn of the school the day before the homecoming football game – to spread awareness about the dangers of underage drinking.
The Pinwheel Project is designed to visually represent the 5,000 youth who die as a result of alcohol yearly.
“Each pinwheel represents 10 deaths due to underage drinking,” said Phyllis Minicuci, Project Coordinator for the Pequannock Township Coalition. “It’s a very powerful statement and I’m proud of the students. They stepped up and did a terrific job.”
Read the full story in The Daily Record here.
Thank you to all who came out in support of The New Face of Addiction at the Morristown Jewish Center Beit Yisrael last night. The crowd was full of eager parents, families, adolescents, and concerned community members in search of information.
The speakers held the audience captive.
We heard from Paul Lavella, Program Director at Treatment Dynamics who discussed the current trends we are seeing among our adolescents, the continued growing problem of prescription opioid abuse and how it can easily develop into heroin addiction.
Next up was Brad Seabury, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor of the Special Operations Division who discussed the opioid problem and how it is being handled my law enforcement. He discussed their eagerness to take down the large heroin mills, versus the individual user, and alternatives to jail such as drug court – amongst many other things.
Our panel took the stage next which included: Morris County Prosecutor Frederic M. Knapp, Randy Thompson founder of Help Not Handcuffs – an organization which focuses on treatment rather than arrest, Rabbi Eisenberg, who is not only a Rabbi but also a drug and alcohol counselor who shared insightful information on addiction as a disease and not a moral deficiency, Dr. Ricki Lynn Gottlieb MD who has a practice in Randolph, NJ and shared about starting the dialogue of addiction among adolescents and their families. Last but not least was Ricki’s son, Austin, who shared his personal story of recovery, and had the audience near tears.
Each panel member was prompted with questions and concepts and elaborated on different areas of addiction such as: legal, treatment, investment in treatment versus arrest, personal, medical, and spiritual. Addiction is a disease which does not discriminate.
Yesterday, we were at the Morris County Correctional Facility, in Morristown, NJ for the Do No Harm Symposium, which addressed opiate and prescription abuse in New Jersey’s correctional facilities. We had the pleasure of having keynote speaking, Governor Jim McGreevy, as well as other fantastic speakers including: Group Supervisor Phil Streicher, of the Tactical Diversion Squad, Drug Enforcement Administration, Medical Director Dr. Sindy Paul, of New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, and Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Ronald Reeves, of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Phil Streicher discussed the issue of addiction among the inmate population, noting that according to the Department of Justice, 48% of all inmates are incarcerated due to substance problems. He further discussed how the prescription epidemic continues to grow, and stated that from 2011 to 2014, New Jersey rose from ranking 41st in overdoses in the country, to 18th. He went on to discuss the role mis-prescription, over prescription, and fraudulent prescription by doctors plays in this epidemic. 70% of the United States population is on at least one prescription medication, and 50% of that number is on 2 or more.
Former Governor Jim McGreevy discussed how critical treatment is to substance abusers, especially in correctional facilities. He stated, “If we have people behind bars, and do not provide them with treatment, it is a profoundly missed opportunity.” Treatment is critically important in jails, and the Governor said, “If you don’t treat the proximate cause of people’s criminal behavior, namely their addiction, they will return to criminal behavior.”
Dr. Sindy Paul spoke regarding the board, and how crucial Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMP) are. She discussed efforts to make forging prescriptions more difficult, by creating prescription pads with finger-sensitive stamps, that will not produce on a copy.
Last to speak was Dr. Ronald Reeves, who discussed the large prevalence of substance abuse as well as mental illness in correctional facilities. Over 50% of New Jersey prisoners met DSM criteria for addiction. Dr. Reeves made it very clear that incarceration does not decrease substance abuse! Nearly 75% of released inmates return to heroin within 3 months, and the percentage increases over time. Dr. Reeves discussed information regarding prescription abuse within corrections, including what they tend to attempt to abuse, and what makes them more prone to abuse. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world – and Dr. Reeves stated the following alternatives to incarceration: Probation, Drug Court, involuntary outpatient commitment, decrease re incarceration for technical violations. In 2007, 40% of inmates released returned within 3 years, and 80% of that number were returned for technical violations. Another attempt to decreasing incarceration would be to lessen length of stay for, specifically for drug crimes.
Overall, the speakers each brought great messages to the symposium. Members in the audience shared provoking insights, as well as asked great questions.
Following the panel, we were invited to a tour of the facility. The entire facility was impeccable, and run extremely well. The staff and the officers were extremely helpful, sharing their passion for the job, continuously reiterating, “If you treat people like animals, they will act like animals; but if you treat them like humans, and with respect, they will act accordingly.”