SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – Sussex County Prosecutor, Francis Koch addressed the audience of community members at a National Recovery Month event at Sussex County Community College on Friday evening, Sept. 18. A reception to welcome the Heroin Addiction Art Exhibit sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was held in collaboration with the Center for Prevention and the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council. “Addiction can affect any family and educating everyone how to prevent substance use in the first place and then, if it occurs, how to support people into and through their recovery journey is important for all of us to understand.” Koch said. The display of artwork from people across the state depicting the effects of substance use adorning the walls spoke to both the people who have journeyed through addiction into recovery, to those still in their active use and to families and friends touched by addiction. The event drew about 50 people who came to see the artwork, obtain resources and support recovery efforts. Theresa DeSalvio, an artist from Passaic County, created a sequence of pictures that features Pinocchio as he enters a world of addiction, finally reaching recovery. “I wanted to show the various and very difficult stages one goes through, how family is affected and finally, the achieving of recovery.” Said De Salvio. Daniel Hilton, a graphic arts student at Montclair State University, who entered the exhibit, commented that, “I never thought the works would receive this much attention, but, it has only been a great experience to understand how our art can begin to generate an awareness and initiate healing.”
Timothy McMahon, DEA Public Information Officer spoke about the connections between prescription drugs and heroin use. He announced the September 26 nationwide prescription drug disposal day. “Prescription drugs can often be the gateway to heroin use and are most available in every medicine cabinet in our homes. When you are selling a house, remove your prescription drugs. When you no longer need a prescription, be a part of the solution to illegal drug use by disposing unwanted drugs at any one of the local disposal sites available in your county. Sussex County also has 7 permanent prescription drug disposal sites to safely dispose of unwanted medications 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, anonymously, no questions asked.”
Annmarie Shafer, Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Families in Sussex County, a program of the Center for Prevention and Counseling, spoke about the need to encourage families to talk about substance use disorders. “From the age of two years old through adulthood, there are conversations we can have with youth and young adults about preventing drug use. We need to start young and continue these conversations. Kids are up against a world of media messages today that glorify drug use. If we, as adults, are not providing an alternate message to what kids are seeing, hearing and experiencing ‘out there,’ they are only getting half the story. Don’t know what to say? The Center has a resource center, websites and a multitude of programs to help. Have a youth group that you lead? Why not call The Center to provide a piece on prevention for your adult mentors as well as the youth. Kids want to talk about what’s going on and knowing how to give them the tools they need to navigate their environment can make the difference of them choosing to live drug-free or not. We know so much more about the adolescent brain than ever before. Addiction and alcoholism are being termed ‘pediatric brain diseases’ because most originate in the adolescent years. Helping youth to enter young adulthood drug-free can ensure that they avoid a lifetime of addiction.” Shafer stated.
September is National Recovery Month. There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.
Now in its 26th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need. Find out more about Recovery Months nationwide at this link. www.recoverymonth.org
Katie Calvacca, 25, from Vernon, spoke as a young person in long-term recovery. Her honest and sincere recollection of how she found her way from addiction to recovery was so very inspirational to hear. “When someone is drowning you don’t say, “Well, he shouldn’t have jumped in if he can’t swim.” You urgently do all you can to save him. We need to help and support those drowning in the effects of addiction, not condemn them. It may seem simple, but I live on my own, I pay my bills on time, I’ve been able to take care of my family, and I’m working now to show that people can and do get well.”
Locally, The Center for Prevention and Counseling receives grant funding from the Sussex County Department of Human Services to increase support to people and families seeking recovery. Included in this initiative has been the creation of a Recovery Advisory Support Board that includes community members who speak for recovery community needs. Telephone counseling, alcohol and other drug-free events, family support meetings and information for anyone seeking and in recovery is available to the public through this program. Call the Center for Prevention and Counseling today to find out more at (973)383-4787 or go to The Sussex County Recovery Community Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/SussexCountyRecoveryCommunity?ref=hl
The Heroin Addiction Art exhibit will be on display through the first week of October at the Sussex County Community College’s Performing Arts Center Atrium, open from 8am until 10pm M-F, Saturdays from 8-4 and is closed Sundays (as school is in session). The artwork is slated for continued display throughout the state in the upcoming months through the collaborative efforts of the DEA and prevention coalitions in every county. For more information on prevention and recovery in Sussex County, contact Annmarie Shafer at The Center at (973)383-4787, ext. 240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .