Consumed by addiction, saved by love: Hopeful moments of 2015
Lynn Regan, the founder, CFC Loud N Clear, never saw her son Daniel's drug use coming.
By the time she managed to rescue him from a deadly lifestyle, he was a junkie who'd overdosed several times — who'd been mixed up with cartels, who'd bee left unconscious in the street by friends.
But she did reach him, and together they've formed an organization that's helped dozens of recovering addicts stay clean — giving them a place to go and activities to keep them busy in the comfort of friends who know what it's like to have gone through their journey.
Lynn, Daniel and others at CFC shared their stories with us in August, as we took a special look at what heroin's doing to New Jersey for a special Town Hall series, "Heroin's Hold on New Jersey."
The statistics are staggering. In 2014, there were 781 heroin-related overdose deaths in New Jersey
That number's been on the rise for years:
According to a report released by the Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in May, in 2014, 28,332 people were admitted into substance abuse treatment programs with heroin or another opiate listed as the individual’s primary drug. That’s nearly half of the 64,766 people entering treatment programs for substances overall in New Jersey.
Of those seeking treatment for heroin or opiates, the most were in Ocean County. The racial breakdown of heroin users is also changing quickly. A 2011 state breakdown found more white people, per capita, dying from drug use than blacks or Hispanics. According to the report, 16.1 per 100,000 white people died of drug-related causes — compared with 9.8 for black people and 5.1 for Hispanic people.
That wasn’t always the case — in 2000, more blacks died of drugs per capita (14.5 per 100,000 than whites (10). But drug deaths among whites have been steadily increasing, and blacks steadily decreasing — 2007 was the last time black deaths from drug-related causes outpaced white deaths.
And authorities say they're running into more and more fentanyl-laced heroin — far more powerful and far more deadly than other batches. People overdosing on the combination are much less responsive to naloxone, better known as Narcan, the opiod antagonist that's saved countless people.
But even among all of that, Daniel's story reminds us — there is hope for those who don't lose sight of it.
We thank him, and Lynn for keeping that hope alive, and for the work they're doing to foster it in others.