The Freeholder Board recently formed an Opiate and Heroin Addiction Awareness Task Force to assist them in promoting addiction awareness and education in Camden County. The task force was officially created at their June 19th 2014 Freeholder Meeting held in Cherry Hill.

This health epidemic is having devastating effects on families and claiming the lives of more and more residents every day,” said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli. We have to do our part as facilitator in the community to help raise awareness and come up with solutions to the problem.”

The county took its first step earlier this year by holding a Community Summit geared at raising awareness and bringing people together to come up with solutions to the problem. “As a result of that community gathering, we received more than a dozen resumes from individuals interested in becoming members of the task force and over 40 people registered to assist in their local communities and school districts with awareness efforts,” Cappelli noted.

“The task force will be made up of students, parents, teachers, civic organizations, medical professionals, public health providers, law enforcement and religious leaders – just to name a few” Cappelli said. “We are not limiting who comprises the task force since this is an issue that touches every area of our community.”

The task force will be charged with increasing awareness of prescription opiate and heroin abuse and addiction, aimed at reducing the demand for heroin and prescription drugs. They will also promote available resources for help and support the development of additional resources to treat and prevent addiction to heroin and prescription drugs.

“The task force members will serve as liaisons to state and local community awareness groups as well as non-profit groups and drug addiction service providers,” Cappelli said. “As an elected official opiate addiction is one of my biggest concerns.”

Heroin and opiates have become a growing public safety and health crisis creating devastating effects on the region, the state and the nation in the last five years. These narcotics are ubiquitous in every community in Camden County and usage is on the rise.

“As a county we know that no one is immune to the addiction of opiates and the task force will focus on prevention and doing what we can to address the lack of treatment options.” Cappelli said.

New Jersey data shows a steady rise in prescription drug abuse in recent years. There were 8,300 admissions to state-certified substance-abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse in 2013, a 200 percent increase over the previous five years, according to the state.

You can learn more or become volunteer in your community by visiting our website. If you or someone you knows is suffering from addiction please call our help hotline at 1-877-266-8882.