What a morning. Spent almost two hours on the show this morning talking with the founder and leaders of the Center for Great Expectations. It’s a Jersey based group focused on helping homeless women with substance addictions. Peg Wright founded the organization in 1998 based on inspiration she received from a Catholic nun. Dr. Debbie Ruisard is the clinical director for the center and both women were with me at New Jersey 101.5 this morning. Many of the women that they have been treating recently have been caught up in the serious heroin epidemic which has been gripping the nation and New Jersey in particular in recent years.
Heroin death-rate in New Jersey per 100,000 — more than three times the national average
Beyond statistics and the great work that the staff at the center do treating 150 women every year, is the palpable sadness, fear and frustration that is the everyday existence for parents of heroin addicts. We had many calls this morning, one in particular stood out as a mom called in to plea for help for her 28 year old son who was addicted. She lives in fear that he will die if he’s not helped. In order to help we took the step of introducing her to Daniel Regan the young man who is now 5 years heroin free who spends his days helping other young people and families in crisis.
So many politicians talk about the crisis yet so little has been done. I’ve suggested before that the Narcan solution was just a bandage on a severed limb and may even work against the goal as addicts are treated multiple times for overdosing – sometimes even in the same day.
What can government do? Perhaps a discussion involving the massive resources behind the narcan distribution is a first step. Then a conversation about how state funded rehabs handle patients while they’re admitted and the plan for ‘sober housing’ and aftercare. The will to solve the problem exists and we’re already funding various programs. What we have to do now is allocated resources properly and prioritize the actions that will reduce the number of addicts and deaths every year.
Clearly there are many parents across the state and nation who need help and advice on how to best handle the situation and get their kids the help they need. Let’s face it, on a good day parenting isn’t an easy task. It often involves handling small things like getting your kids to finish their homework or making sure they eat right and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Obviously ‘normal’ parenting is a good problem to have when compared to the challenging and terrifying world of dealing with a kid who’s addicted to a drug that can be so devastating and deadly. With so many concerned people looking to help, a solution is within our grasp. But we’ve got to address root causes of the overall addition problem in our country. Narcan is a bandage on a severed artery. Rehabs that are difficult to get into and only keep you heroin free for the 30 days you’re admitted are woefully inadequate. The Center for Great Expectations and Daniel Regan’s
Loud and Clear are a good foundation for a solution.
For our part, we’re going to keep the conversation going. Today we took some small steps and connected a couple of moms to our friend Daniel Regan and to Kim Guadagno’s team who have been on this issue along with the Governor since they got into office. Sometimes you’ve got to work toward a solution by helping one victim at a time.