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Time to Win – Part 1 Continued: Awareness

Please allow me to continue with the importance of awareness in the work to address the causes, the obstacles, and the recovery opportunities associated with substance misuse and addiction.

Many of you have heard about or perhaps even participated in the UNITE to Face Addiction Event in Washington DC this past weekend. Indeed, October 4th was a day in which tens of thousands of people rallied in an organized way on the National Mall to broadcast the message and, in fact, deepen the conversation about the huge substance problems and need for multi-level solutions for this entire country. I was unable to attend. Yet there were many people I know who traveled from New Jersey and other locations to join together. Many had lost loved ones, including children, to the disease of addiction and others had somehow successfully navigated to sustained recovery and yet still wanted to help to advance the message. Well known performers with their own stories brought their talents and messages of courage, hope and strength in voices to the stage. Though it was disappointing that major news media outlets did not cover the event and take the message as far as they could and should have, this event without a doubt did have an impact on awareness that is needed to try to move everyone in positions of influence to impact and even make decisions in these areas and to listen more intently and hopefully to work more effectively together.

My friend, Denise Mariano, a most compassionate and experienced advocate and parent coach for Parents for Drug-Free Kids, traveled to Washington to be there with so many others.  She shared with me that the event demonstrated that it is “our time to end the silence and mobilize policy change. And this day also proved to be an opportunity to honor and remember each and every one of the souls who we sadly lost to this disease. We did begin to celebrate the hope for the possibility of recovery for all of those still struggling including families throughout our nation” and to reduce the risk of those who might someday encounter the disease.

We need to continue this effort of awareness on every level – nationally, statewide, and in our communities. On this Saturday, October 17, Prevention Links will have its annual Drug Prevention Walk. It’s an opportunity to participate in awareness as well as helping to benefit the Raymond J. Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope Recovery High School to raise funds that help adolescents with substance problems to continue their education and advance their recovery. The CHRIS COPPOLA CDUB Foundation, which was established in memory of my son, is one of the many sponsors of the walk and will be represented by “Team Chris”. There will be so many others. The tag line that “Everyone knows someone…” is very real. It’s not too late to register for the walk.

Register at www.preventionlinks.org.www.preventionlinks.org.

More to come,

 

Dom Coppola

Prevention Links and CHRIS COPPOLA CDUB Foundation

 

Follow Dominick V Coppola@hopeinknowledge

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Time to Win – Part 1: Awareness

My last post aimed to convey that, when it comes substance misuse, there is no such thing as too much awareness. Of course, awareness means different things to different people at different times–and at different potential stages of substance misuse. I will touch upon just two today and will discuss more about awareness next time.

  1.     1.  We have seen instrumental government leaders, more and more, begin to recognize substance misuse and the reality of addiction as a disease. In New Jersey there are several champions of substance abuse awareness, including State Senators Raymond Lesniak and Joseph Vitale.  In Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin has taken a lead in prevention, treatment, and recovery support. Groundbreaking legislation and programs have been introduced and supported to help to address the epidemic, in general, and recovery specifically. Just a few weeks ago, Carly Fiorina, 2016 Presidential candidate, stood on the stage of the Republican Presidential debate which was broadcast globally by CNN and reminded the world that she and her husband had lost a daughter to substance abuse and that much needs to be done to address the causes and the outcomes of the epidemic and the disease.

My point is that we need more local, state, and national leaders to recognize and make this a part of their platforms and policies. We need real community programs that are based in science to be provided to the people who need them most. Everyone needs to continue to talk with our leaders, to get them involved, to get them to support programs fully, not half-heartedly. This is their problem because it is everyone’s problem. This is awareness.

  1. Why do our schools require examinations by physicians, particularly for students who sign up to participate in sports and other physical activities? They want to make certain that each student is physically fit and in good health to able to stand the rigors and the demands of the activity. And yet, are the same students tested for the use of substances? In many cases, they are not. Recognizing that this question leads to controversial discussions about privacy and trust, one might nonetheless look at substance/drug testing as at least as important as the other aspects of a physical exam. There are more adolescent overdoses and deaths each year in our nation than there are from injuries and physical problems that occur in school sports and similar activities.

Why not test? I would suggest that if testing was mandatory and done entirely in confidence, without the threat of punishment, children’s lives would be saved. Substance abuse will be caught sooner in many cases, and perhaps before too many negative consequences have already occurred. To me, the argument that an undue stigma might be left with the child is wrong thinking. If it is private and confidential, then that fear should not exist. Moreover, I would take that risk any day in comparison to the possibility of the ultimate stigma–death. I wish that someone had tested my son, who played middle and high school team sports. Maybe with a testing practice, his substance abuse and his impending addiction could have been discovered much sooner or even avoided and his opportunity for sustainable recovery much greater. Ask me if I would rather deal with a small possibility of stigma than his death.

Is testing awareness?  You bet it is.

One of my intentions here is to start a conversation. Some may think these ideas are controversial. Sometimes it takes a bold statement to encourage a community to start talking. And this is a conversation we in our community and throughout our nation can no longer wait to have. The opinions and positions expressed in this blog are my own. They do represent the views of the CHRIS COPPOLA CDUB Foundation. They do not reflect upon Prevention Links in any way.

More to come,

Dom Coppola

Prevention Links and CHRIS COPPOLA CDUB Foundation

Follow Dominick V Coppola@hopeinknowledge

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Time to Win – Part 1

It seems that every day the news about substance misuse and addiction is getting louder and shared ever more widely. This is particularly true of opiate and heroin use. Greater awareness is certainly the outcome of multi-faceted awareness campaigns that are working in aggregate. Of course, the most common reason for the rise in awareness is that this epidemic has accelerated to unforeseen and unimaginable levels.

Every state in the nation is experiencing increased heroin use, penetrating every demographic, with a corresponding growth in the number of overdoses and deaths. Children, barely adolescents, are in the center of it. This reality is biting at communities, including parents, brothers, sisters, and friends of those who find themselves in the grasp of heroin addiction. No one sets out to become addicted to any drug. And yet, despite the heightened awareness, heroin deaths have quadrupled in the US over the decade between 2002 and 2013 according to the US Centers for Disease Control. These numbers are staggering.

Awareness is critical to addressing this epidemic, and there can never be too much awareness. Yet awareness in and of itself has limited benefits. Over the next several blog entries, I am going to focus on how awareness programs can be made more effective. I will focus on how we need to amend what we are and aren’t saying and what we are and aren’t doing in the areas of awareness, treatment, and recovery. I will also spend some time on the backdrop of recognizing that just as there is no single cause for addiction, there is no single approach to recovery. In doing so, I will talk about some very dangerous rhetoric that has been making the rounds which denies the science of addiction as well as the nature of addiction as a chronic brain disease.

So many people are fond of saying “We lost the war on drugs” to the point that it has almost become a cliché. Indeed that particular war was lost–mostly because it was misconceived and poorly fought, at both the strategic and tactical levels. But fighting a war for a right and just cause isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We do need to fight a smart war by changing and improving strategies and then executing with a foundation of strong standards, sustained investment, and resolve to win.

More to come,

Dom Coppola

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GRADUATION

GRADUATION

May and June are the months when graduations from universities, colleges and high schools typically occur. A colleague and dear friend suggested that I write about addiction and recovery in the context of a graduation theme. I have thought about it on and off for the past two weeks. Here is some of what I have concluded.

In the most common parlance, graduation from school is an event. It is an event that recognizes all who have attained a goal of completing curriculum and requirements that represents their assimilation of knowledge and development of skills, meeting criteria of satisfaction and even excellence. Yet it is much more than that. It is really a culmination of a journey through education, easy at times, challenging at others, and sometimes seemingly near impossible. Maybe the term culmination should be replaced by milestone as graduation is really a moment for reflection, recognition and a deep breath before one continues their life journey of experience, skill development and, indeed, more education.

This is where I see how the metaphor fits best. Each graduation from school is a milestone in a gradual, life-long learning process, which rarely occurs in a linear fashion. Lifetime learning has detours, changes in direction, and moments of frustration, stress and disappointment. Lifetime learning also comes with those “aha moments,” reassuring times when everything seems to be unfolding perfectly for us. As we move forward, building upon successes from day to day, learning more with each corresponding graduation, our lives seem more rewarding. Each ensuing acknowledgement is a recognition of not only that most recent learning achievement, but all of those that preceded it, and all of those to come. Graduations are truly a celebration of the aggregate of whom we are and who we might be, as well as who we can become, with ever greater confidence in the future.

Can recovery be this same positive lifetime learning experience–an enduring, gradual process with milestones of graduation and acknowledgement in which all can find a measure of true joy?

Until next time,

Dominick

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Wellness, Prevention & Recovery

By: Dominick Coppola

Welcome to our inaugural blog post – Wellness, Prevention & Recovery!

I will be the primary author of this blog, which will focus on topics related to substance misuse and addiction, with an emphasis on overall wellness, prevention, and sustained recovery. I am an active board member for Prevention Links and a member of the board subcommittee of the Raymond Lesniak ESH Recovery High School, housed on the campus of Kean University in Union NJ, now successfully open and growing.

My audience is anyone who is seeking greater insight, different viewpoints, and facts about these topics. At times, the topic might be controversial. At other times, it might seem like “well, that’s something everyone knows about.” But, in reality, everyone who really should know probably does not. I will explore topics through the lens of public policy, trends, and science as well as personal experiences, and community and individual needs.

Wellness, Prevention & Recovery will be published on Prevention Links’ website and Facebook page, as well as the web site of the Chris Coppola CDUB Foundation, which I administer as a memorial tribute to my always wondrous son, Chris, who overdosed and, as a direct outcome, passed away five and a half years ago. (CDUB, which has a good story behind it, is a long-time nickname, given to Chris by some of his closest lifetime friends. )

I realize that not every topic and post will resonate with every subscriber. Yet, if one blog post has meaning for a single individual, appealing to them in some helpful personal way, it will be worthwhile. Of course, it is hoped that the appeal will be widely helpful. I hope to continue to voice clear and meaningful information, knowledge and thoughts for a long time.

Until next time,

Dominick

You will be able to receive a twitter alert whenever a blog update has been published by following me, Dominick V Coppola @hopeinknowledge .

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