HOWELL – It is in their mission statement. The Howell Alliance works collaboratively with the community to “prevent drug addiction, underage drinking, and tobacco use through promoting public awareness, education, outreach resources, life skills, and positive choices.”
In the midst of an opioid epidemic, this is especially important.
The Howell Municipal Alliance will soon be hosting a free Narcan training program to equip anyone with the knowledge of how to save a life. The training session will be conducted in cooperation with JSAS HealthCare on March 21, 6 p.m., at the Howell Township Municipal Building.
Christa Riddle, Howell Alliance Coordinator, said that while this is her first training as head of the Alliance, it is not the first the township has seen. However, she does plan on doing them more often and more regularly, she said.
“I am hoping at least every few months,” said Riddle.
The goal of Narcan treatment is to keep individuals who overdose alive so that they may get the help they need to recover. Riddle explained that it doesn’t prevent someone from using drugs in the first place, but it does give them that second chance to “get to the proper resources, they can enter treatment and recovery, which is our goal.”
You don’t need to have personal experience with drug abuse or know someone who is going through this to participate in the training either. If you are capable of using Narcan to revive someone, you are saving someone’s parent, spouse, or child.
“Every life matters…it is always someone’s loved one, someone’s child,” said Riddle. “Substance abuse disorders affect just about every family.”
The purpose of the training is not only about Narcan, but it also aims to reduce the stigma associated with addiction, she added. Surviving the overdose is only half the battle; it is the recovery process, the “getting help” part that really matters.
“People should feel comfortable sharing about their situation, reaching out for help, and soliciting support from others in the community without shame and negative reactions,” Riddle said. “There is no room for shame if we want to stop this epidemic.”
Riddle is also on the committee for the Monmouth County Stigma Free Zone, which is a substance abuse and mental health awareness program to be launched in the spring.
The free Narcan training will be hosted by Howell Alliance, but conducted by professionals from JSAS. It is first-come, first-serve for the first 30 people.
JSAS also hosts their own, regular Narcan training sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 p.m., at their location at 685 Neptune Blvd. in Neptune.
According to Diane Villari, MS, LCADC, Administrative Director of JSAS Healthcare, these trainings consist of “education on opiate use disorder, how to recognize an overdose, what to do and not do in the event of an overdose and how to administer Narcan. There is time for hands on practice after each training.”
JSAS offers about seven training sessions each month, each class averaging about 10 participants, said Villari. The program rolled out in 2015
While JSAS keeps a record of the data associated with the trainings, the Alliance does not have a history of doing this. JSAS began their program back in 2015 and has since trained about 4,000 people in Narcan use, according to Villari.
Riddle said that she plans on working to keep a tab on how many people attend each training session so she can “gauge the need and response” for the Howell community. “Narcan alone is not enough; it is the first step towards recovery, and we need to provide education and resources to save lives,” Riddle said.