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July 9, 2019

NJTV Hosts Community Forum on Substance Abuse Addiction Treatment and Recovery

NJTV, in collaboration with the Essex County Community Health Service Office of Alcohol, Drug Abuse & Addiction Services, hosted a  community forum on “Innovation in Addiction Recovery” at The Life Christian Church in West Orange on June 26th, in conjunction with the network’s In Your Neighborhood initiative. It featured a panel discussion about the latest treatment and recovery support service options, beyond medication, that increase the chances for complete addiction recovery.

NJTV News Correspondent and Anchor Michael Hill moderated a panel of health professionals, faith leaders and experts to discuss the role of treatment and recovery community organizations and nonclinical services in assisting individuals and families to recover from a substance abuse disorder.

Panelists were Eileen Fishman, Acting Director, Division of Community Health Services at Essex County Department of Community Health; Joel Pomales, Founder & CEO of Mainstream Recovery; Lynn Seaward, Assistant Director of STAR Program, RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery; Sue A. Seidenfeld, MS, LCADC, CCS, Executive Director, COPE Center, Inc. and Lisa Valentine, Ministry Leader, Celebrate in Recovery, The Life Christian Church and Valentine House, Co-founder/President. They were joined by expert-on-hand Stanley H. Weiss, M.D. Professor, Dept. of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Department of Medicine, NJMS at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Community member asking a question to the panel.

More than 50 people attended the discussion, which spoke to the new understanding of addiction in today’s society and the latest treatments and recovery options for opioid and other drug addiction.

“Recovery is not linear,” said Seidenfeld. “It takes a community and recovery support is critical.  Connectivity creates trust.”

“The goal of addiction treatment is to help people survive and live,” said Weiss. “To get them educated and get them resources.”

Expert-on-hand Dr. Stanley H. Weiss, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, discusses the goals of addiction treatment and recovery.

There is reason to be optimistic according to Fishman, with an increase in information, more boots-on-the-ground resources and a better understanding of those in need.  “We are saving more lives now with changes in combatting addiction,” she says. Examples she cited included the trends of treating those who are incarcerated and law enforcement carrying Narcan.

Hill summarized that “we are a more enlightened society that understands addiction as a brain disease and that makes better treatment possible.”

Pomales, himself in recovery for eight years, also advised that families do their homework on the counselors they engage with on behalf of loved ones. “Be mindful about where professionals come from, what treatment facilities they are associated with,” he said. “Beware of those that prey on victims.  That is out there.”

The forum was well-received by attendees; one writing in afterwards to say, “I found it extremely informative. Being in this field for over ten years, there hasn’t been much new for a while. To learn more about the Certified Peer Recovery Support programs available was so encouraging.” NJTV’s next community forum will discuss the topic of climate change in Cape May. Learn more here.

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