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March 31, 2016

NJTV’s First “Drug Addiction Crisis” Forum Focuses on Personal Stories, Drug Stigmas

NJTV’s first Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis forum, themed “Faces of Addiction,” sought a personal look at today’s addiction to gain a better understanding of who is using heroin and “gateway” drugs, abusing opioids, and the stigma facing both addicts and their loved ones as they search for recovery. NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill moderated the panel discussion and audience Q&A, which was also livestreamed.

Roughly 140 people attended the forum in Toms River, from counties as far away as Bergen, Hudson and Burlington. Tables of resources lined the room from partner organizations and treatment centers.

John Brogan, Chief Recovery Specialist - Barnabas Health-Institute for Prevention and a former addict who steers heroin users into treatment, shares his perspective on the state’s drug issues

John Brogan, Chief Recovery Specialist for Barnabas Health-Institute for Prevention and a former addict, shares his perspective on the state’s drug issues

The evening’s panelists were Patty DiRenzo, Advocate (who lost her son to overdose); Maureen McLoughlin MSW CSW, Executive Director, Families Against Addiction Inc.; Stephen Stirling, NJ Advance Media Reporter; Paul Ressler, CEO & President, The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation, (who lost his son to overdose); and Joel Pomales, NJ-chapter of Young People in Recovery and CCAR-Certified Recovery Coach.

In addition to the panel, experts were on hand from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office, the medical field, advocacy groups and more. The audience was heavily engaged throughout the session; based upon the feedback opinion cards distributed at the event the dialogue was well-received.

Roughly 140 people attended the forum.

Roughly 140 people attended the forum.

Audience member Connie G. commented, “What’s happening in this room had never happened before,” alluding to the in-depth group discussion of the addiction topic. Panelist Stephen Stirling stated, “Forums like this where we talk about things is a great start,” to resolving the drug crisis in the state. Added panelist Maureen McLoughlin, “There is hope. Look at the people in this room. We’re talking the talk that needs to be done.”

In addition, NJTV News Correspondent Briana Vannozzi conducted one-on-one interviews with individuals about their personal stories of living with/around addiction for web and on-air content.

In conjunction with the initiative, NJTV launched a companion website for the initiative njdrugcrisis.org, which houses a growing number of resources for drug addiction, prevention, treatment and recovery as well as pertinent news coverage from NJTV News and other outlets.

Watch tonight’s NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams for Michael Hill’s report on the evening; airing at 5:30pm on THIRTEEN; 6pm, 7:30pm and 11pm on NJTV.

NJTV’s next Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis forum will be April 29, 2016, in Atlantic City, focusing on public policy, wrapped into the state’s largest addiction conference that same day at the Convention Center.

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