Say something... ABOUT HEROIN is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Wall Community Alliance, the Shore Community Alliance and the churches of the Manasquan Area Ministerium and supported by a broad coalition of community partners. It is a multi-faceted program and all of our partners are fully involved in and committed to a long term strategy of education, prevention, intervention, treatment and postvention. This series of programs has been commended by addiction and mental health specialists throughout the state and county because it is based on a model of a competent community response to the problem.
Although heroin has been a problem in our area for many years, it has never been to this extent - - in fact, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni has called it an "Epidemic"
This month alone (April 2014) in Ocean County, Law Enforcement Officers have used Narcan® to save the lives of 6 people who otherwise may have died of heroin overdose.
Our initial programs, including the upcoming program on May 14, are intended to be educational programs. Despite hundreds of hours I have spent on this project in the last 6 months, I learn something new about heroin, addiction or treatment every time I attend a program which makes me better able to help people in my congregation and community.
Our first event was aimed at "gatekeepers" in the community, some of whom are well informed and some less so. By bringing everyone "up to speed" together we are better able to reach into our individual communities and educate out respective "constituencies."
The next event is aimed at the broad community. I know that there are many people in my congregation who are unaware of some of the key facts in this crisis - - this is one opportunity for them to hear from the experts.
In June we will be hosting an event to provide information in intervention, treatment and recovery.
A youth focused event is planned to follow - date TBA
In the fall we will be hosting a course on Mental Health First Aid because addiction is so often accompanied with a co-occurring mental health issue (http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/
We are also in discussion with the representatives of the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention about a community based implementation of the Sources of Strength program which also builds community strength and resilience. This is an evidence based program designed around suicide prevention, but the underlying principles may be adaptable to our current situation. (http://sourcesofstrength.org/)
In my discussions with mental health, law enforcement, addiction and religious leaders across the region and state I have not heard of a single community that is addressing this issue as broadly as we are.
Rev. Joe Gratzel, Pastor
First Baptist Church of Manasquan