Jim Curtin wrote an Op Ed article, which was published in the New Jersey Record:
As attention to the opioid epidemic rises -providing so much hope -misconceptions and misinformation complicate the work of treatment professionals and organizations. Among the inexcusable errors I have seen recently is the suggestion that there is a waiting list for opioid addiction treatment.
As the largest service provider to opioid abusers under 21, we have beds available right now and another treatment provider in the youth and young adult space has announced it will convert to an adult facility due to a lack of clients. As difficult as it is to get those suffering from substance use disorders to enter treatment, telling them it is not available is a devastating message.
There has been a broad dialogue around the state’s recent advertising campaign, Reach NJ. Claims that the state’s advertising campaign deprives funding for treatment, which emanate from the political, rather than the clinical world, misses a critical truth: information about treating and destigmatizing opioid addiction is essential.
The fact that our state has an affirmative approach to raising awareness is something we should honor for what it is: a sincere effort to reduce a harrowing social problem involving hundreds of thousands of people. We cannot allow this dialogue to be rooted in politics; it has to be rooted in a commitment to vehicles to recovery.
Opioid use has no political bent and there is no recovery by rhetoric. There probably are 100 users for every bed; we have unfilled beds because we have not overcome the challenges of delivering a message of hope and the effectiveness of treatment to opioid users.
Having worked for more than 25 years with human beings who suffer through this catastrophic brain disorder, it disappoints me to see those suffering from substance use disorders are treated as anything other than those with a disease whose treatment is incredibly complex.
We can provide youth under the age of 21 with immediate access to much needed treatment in facilities funded by the Department of Children and Families at no or low cost to patients for treatment services.
In Daytop facilities located throughout New Jersey, we hope to make as big an impact as possible on as many lives as we can. Once people feel safe in our care -and the care of other organizations who are similarly committed – we can provide our primary service, a place for those suffering to heal, learn and grow.
Diverting attention from helping people most in need of hope and recovery is to defeat our efforts.
James P. Curtin is president and chief executive officer of Daytop NJ.