MAHWAH, N.J. — The Mahwah Municipal Alliance has mailed its first newsletter and drug facts sheet to residents in advance of a meeting on abuse of heroin and pharmaceuticals.
Township officials are raising awareness toward the public health crisis in drug abuse and overdose deaths, MMA President Carolyn Blake said.
"We wanted to get the conversation started about prescription pain medication and heroin," said Blake of the letter, a forecast of the Nov. 10 township meeting, "Prescription Drug & Heroin Epidemic."
The Mahwah Police Department saved four overdosing drug users this year using Narcan.
"Ten or 15 years ago people used to look at heroin addicts as junkies or homeless people in New York lying in alleyways," MPD Chief Jim Batelli told Daily Voice. "Now they're no longer junkies — they're addicts."
The goal, Batelli said, is to get people the resources they need to address the problem and help coworkers, relatives and neighbors.
Seventy-five percent of heroin users started out with opiate painkillers, Batelli said.
"Some families whose son or daughter died of a heroin overdose are saying it's a heart attack," the chief said. "If they have to deal with it like that we understand, but we have to start a conversation about the heroin epidemic."
The epidemic is not a law enforcement problem, it's an education problem, Batelli said.
"We can sit back and do nothing," he said, "but that definitely won't help."
The panel will include:
-A presentation by Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli
-A Parent of Heroin Addict
-A Recovering Addict - Steve
-A Psychiatric nurse specializing in addiction: Dr. Brenda Marshall
-Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli and Captain Steve Jaffe
-Bergen County Dept. of Health Services' Office of Alcohol & Drug Dependency
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