For New Jersey families, heroin and opiate addiction hits a lot closer to home than many want to admit.
Over 100 residents from all over the state gathered at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan on Thursday to hear the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (GCADA) hold their third hearing on drug and alcohol addiction.
A panel of 12 professionals in the addiction field, inlcuding former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, ran the GCADA's task force on heroin and other opiate use amongst New Jersey youth and young adults meeting.
During the forum, two familes spoke to the task force about their experiences with rehab groups and out patient therapy. Dominick Coppola from Bridgewater was a parent who addressed the task force with problems he experienced with insurance and rehab while his son went through a heroin drug addiction that ultimately took his life.
“The day my son went to buy those drugs I wish his car had been stopped and he arrested because maybe, just maybe, he would have been forced into a program. He may have had a better chance,” he said.
In addition to family members who lost loved ones, former addicts retold their experiences with addiction, mentioning what worked well for them and what did not.
Doctors currently working to advance addiction treatment also took the microphone.
“Addiction is a disease, nobody wakes up in the morning and says ‘I think I’ll become an addict today,” explained Dr. Louis Baxter President and Executive Medical Director at the Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey. “It’s [addiction] a brain disease that affects all parts of the body and is like other chronic medical illnesses that we accept today, like diabetes.”
After multiple presentations and questions, residents were able to address the task force with questions and personal experiences in a three-minute time frame. While the topic at hand was tough, and hit close to home with many attendees, all present voiced their hopes for a better way of helping those suffering from addiction.
The next hearing for the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Cooper Medical Center in Camden. For more information about the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse can be found at www.nj.gov/treasury/gcada or on facebook by 'liking' the GCADA.