Addiction Awareness Task Force Hosts Patrick Kennedy

(May 26, 2016) – The Freeholder Board and the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force welcomed former congressman Patrick Kennedy for a panel discussion called “Breaking the Silence.” The discussion took an unvarnished look at a group of participating young adults who are recovering from their battle with addiction.

“This transparent dialogue, led by one of the leading voices on the issue in the nation, was impactful to the audience and is important for our continuing work against addiction,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. “The objective of this task force is to focus on all variables that play into addiction and combat it from all angles.”

Patrick J. Kennedy is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the nation’s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. During his 16-year career representing Rhode Island in Congress, he fought a national battle to end medical and societal discrimination against these illnesses, highlighted by his lead sponsorship of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008–and his brave openness about his own health challenges.

The Young People in Recovery Panel was moderated by SJ Magazine’s Marianne Aleardi. The panelists were Mariel Harrison, Devin Reaves, Joel Pomales, and James Hatzell.

“The heroin and opioid crisis is a national public health emergency that’s hitting closer to home for so many of our families and friends every day. As a member of the Congressional Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I’m urging my colleagues in Washington to commit the resources necessary to achieve meaningful results for those battling this disease. The stories are tragic and the pain is real. This is a deeply personal struggle that requires a strong public response,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01).

The panel discussion took place on May 23rd in the Civic Hall Auditorium on Camden County College’s Blackwood Campus.

“I applaud Congressman Kennedy’s work on mental health and addiction, and we are honored to have him bring his inspiring message to Camden County,” Rodriguez said. “Having an active dialogue with all of the members of our community is just as important as identifying treatment options, creating new avenues to discard prescription medication and tearing down the stigma surrounding addiction. We need assistance from all corners of the community to combat the scourge of heroin and the abuse of prescription pain killers.”