Catholic Charities responds to drug epidemic

Catholic Charities responds to drug epidemic

They gathered on April 11 at Catholic Charities’ Camden office. Parents and professionals, clergy and government officials, former addicts and school administrators. Diverse in background, but unified in purpose.

The group began the planning effort for an evening of sharing ideas, exchanging perspectives, and igniting a communitywide effort to fight the crisis of opioid addiction in South Jersey.

This planning process will culminate in a free symposium, open to the public, on May 17 at Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, from 6-8:30 p.m.

Remarked one participant in the planning meeting, a mother whose child died from an overdose, “If this event can save just one parent from going through the pain that I’ve experienced, it will be worth it.”

The event, co-sponsored by Discovery Ministries, the DEA, and Catholic Charities, will include panel discussions where attendees will have the opportunity to engage with experts in the various fields of addiction recovery, including Father John Stabeno, who has had over 30 years of experience with addicted individuals and their families.

Father Stabeno, the program director of Catholic Charities’ Addiction Healing Ministry, which brings its social and community services to bear, offering help along a full continuum of care — from prevention efforts to treatment referrals, family counseling, relapse prevention and support for those who have lost loved ones to the scourge — commented on the necessary response to the crisis.

“I believe knowledge and experience are critical to developing the tools we need to build a firm foundation to combat addiction in the home and in the community. For too long, denial and ignorance have prevailed as overall attitudes toward this population. Presently, with so many young people dying from this disease, silence and misinformation are no longer acceptable. “

He continued, “Professionals are partnering up to address this crisis and we are learning from one another. We need to be on top of what is happening on the streets if we want to save the lives of those who are dying on the streets. The diversity of backgrounds and the commitment evidenced by those speaking and presenting at this event promises to be a worthwhile evening for all those who will be in attendance.”

The program will have for its keynote speaker Nicholas Kolen, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division.

Remarked Special Agent Kolen, “In my career in drug law enforcement, I have not seen a drug epidemic as bad as we are seeing today. That is why the Prescription Opioids and Heroin Abuse presentation is so important. We have to keep educating the community on the severity of this epidemic and reinforce that it is in every community, in every neighborhood. Education on this issue is vital.”

Some 20 resource stations, staffed by a variety of service providers, advocacy groups, public and private organizations, including Catholic Charities, will be featured to provide resources, help and support.

The event is free and open to all: concerned parents, students, former addicted individuals and those seeking recovery, teachers and interested citizens.

If you go:

Prescription Opioids and Heroin Abuse presentation

Wednesday, May 17, 6-8:30 p.m.

Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill. For more information: timothy.p.mcmahon@usdoj.gov / 862-849-9863

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