Mental health is an underestimated problem in opioid addiction
The fight against opioid addiction never stops at City Of Angels despite the fundraising comedy show we're doing for them this Saturday night. Co-founder Kevin Meara carries with him the Holy cards from the funerals he attends of those who lost their struggle as a constant reminder- as if he needs one. "It's been a very difficult spring, we buried over 12 kids. In the last few days Board of Trustees member Art Ackerman's nephew, Michael, passed away. Kyle, who was one of our recovery coaches, relapsed and passed away. It's just been devastating and it's not slowing down," Meara says. You'd think that it would, with all that we know about opioid addiction and the information that's out there.
Meara, who lost his son Casey to opioid addiction, thinks a lot of it has to do with the mental health. "I don't think they're getting the treatment for mental health." I had said that probably 70% of our kids would make it through alcohol and even heroin by doing an AA program or treatment and 30% of our kids are dealing with a mental health issue that's causing them to self medicate and they're not getting the help for that in these treatment centers." Meara was underestimating, according to Debbie Wentz of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, who told him the number was more like 70% of the kids have mental health issues.
Meara says, "It's like they're going in for cancer treatment and not getting radiation." Then there's the fentanyl. "China is just shipping in fentanyl by the tons and these kids think they're doing heroin and its really fentanyl. The Narcan is not even working on them. They're dead before they even hit the floor."
Meara lost his son Casey to opioid addiction ten years ago. Since then, awareness has come a long way. "When we started we couldn't get a letter to the editor, then with Governor Christie Reach New Jersey, President Obama talking about it, President Trump talking about it, there's now more public awareness," Kevin says. As for the funding, "It's going to take a while before it gets down to where we are."
To sum it up. Meara says, "In some categories, we have seen some things but if you judge it by the amount of deaths, they're going higher than last year."
The City of Angels fundraiser takes place this Saturday night at the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza with Bill Spadea, Jay Black, Jimmy Graham, Eric Potts, Jessica Nutt, and myself. It's going to be a great show and you can get your tickets here.
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