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Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series

Through a joint program by The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, families impacted by the opioid crisis find support, resources and hope.

Elaine remembers the most harrowing moment of her life.

Her son Henry had recently moved back home, two years after graduating from college. He’d lost his job in New York City when his company went into bankruptcy. Right away, it was clear something was terribly wrong. Henry’s behavior became erratic and his appearance disheveled. Money flowed out his bank account.

Feeling that they had no other choice, Elaine and her husband tracked their son’s phone calls. These led them to a man who had a police record for selling opioids like OxyContin and Percocet. That night, Elaine and her husband confronted Henry, who confessed that he’d been snorting oxycodone. He had an opioid addiction.

“Nothing before, and I doubt ever again, will capture the terror, pain and guilt I felt at that moment,” Elaine remembers.

Elaine and her husband never imagined their son could be struggling with a Substance Use Disorder. When Henry and his siblings were teens, they learned about drugs the hard way: a friend’s son was in a bad car accident and became addicted to painkillers. The boy was never able to get past his addiction. It all served as a sobering lesson…or so Elaine and her husband thought. Now, even though her family desperately needed help, she was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

Finally, Elaine broke down and confided in her sister, who had seen a flyer for the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey/The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series. These community events are funded through a generous grant from The Horizon Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting organizations that make New Jersey healthier. Elaine attended one of the town halls.

The mood was grim, but the people there gave her hope. “Our local sheriff hugged me and gave me his card, saying I could call day and night,” Elaine recalls. “I can’t put into words how grateful I felt.”

Speaker after speaker took the microphone to talk about their roles in halting the opioid crisis. Numerous professionals offered support and services: Representatives from community organizations, law enforcement and government. Physicians and mental health counselors. Drug abuse prevention and recovery specialists. Several individuals recovering from addiction also shared their stories in an effort to help others at the town hall.

“Our Town Hall meetings offer maximum support, information and resources for people like Elaine,” says Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership. “We make sure that every possible resource is available for those who are touched by the opioid crisis.”

Henry, now 26, is in recovery for his addiction.

“Before the Town Hall, I wasn’t sure that I could help my son,” says Elaine. “But afterward, I knew that I could support his recovery. It wouldn’t be easy, but I knew I could do it because I wasn’t alone.”