STUDENTS FIGHT OPIOID CRISIS WITH TIGGER HOUSE ALLIANCE
By Elizabeth Wulfhorst
When students from Two River-area high schools head back to class next month, some won’t just be worried about classes and sports.
Some will be fighting the national opioid epidemic on a local level.
Students from the Tigger House Foundation Student Alliance Program educate students about drug addiction and the consequences that addiction can have on one’s physical and mental health, family and relationships and how and why substances are abused.
Since 2013 Tigger House Foundation has been fighting the opioid/heroin epidemic by providing treatment, education, outreach and hope to those serious about recovery. The foundation was created by Lisa, Rick and Alex Stavola in honor of Rick Stavola Jr., nicknamed Tigger, who lost his battle with addiction when he was 25. The foundation’s programs have reached more than 5,000 people in the past five years.
Teens in the Student Alliance Program work with teachers, principals and other students to learn about addiction. Local law enforcement leaders educate students on opioid overdose and the legal ramifications of using opioids. More than 3,000 children under the age of 5 suffer from accidental opioid overdose poisoning each year and 15 percent of the opioid-related deaths in Monmouth County occur in those between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.
In addition to educating their peers, the students from Christian Brothers Academy, Middletown High School South, Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional and Trinity Hall also raise funds for Tigger’s scholarship program which provides people the oppor tunity to receive drug treatment.
Here are excerpts from essays students in the alliance program wrote expressing, why they have chosen to join the program and why fighting drug addiction is important to them.
ROBERT GRAY RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN REGIONAL
“I feel passionately about fighting addiction and spreading awareness because I want to save lives.
Like many families in America, opioid addiction has affected my family. I thought it started five years ago when my cousin was admitted to a rehabilitation facility for a heroin addiction, but it really started years before the family intervention…
There are low barriers to drug access in my community. Anyone who wants to use opioids, can find a way. I hope in time that the prevalence of dangerous drugs will lose its appeal, particularly for my generation. However, I have my doubts given the loss of connection some young people feel in the age of constant electronic usage. …Through my role in the Tigger House Student Alliance I will find avenues to educate my peers about the dangers of opioid addiction and the devastation that it brings to families and communities. Equally important, I believe, is the need to eliminate the sense of shame recovering addicts and their families may feel.”
OLIVIA PETER RED BANK CATHOLIC
“The Tigger House Student Alliance is going to become a vital part of nearby schools that I want to be a part of. The fact of the matter is that drug abuse tends to start in high school. Knowledge of addiction needs to be spread around because you never know who needs to hear it or who knows someone who is suffering, and most people don’t know what to do when facing addiction. Through the THSA, we can educate people and provide resources to show them that the road of addiction doesn’t have to end with overdose and that recovery is an option…Recovery is not something people should be scared of, it’s something that people should seek out and the THSA will help educate students on this purpose…I am not afraid to have the discussion about addiction and I believe that I can really help people accept that it is a huge problem in society that we have the chance to correct…”
FRANKIE STAVOLA MIDDLETOWN HIGH SCHOOLSOUTH
“I would like to be a part of the Tigger House Student Alliance because this organization is very close to me. Tigger was my cousin, but he was almost more like a friend or brother to me. His passing had a very big effect on my life, and I would love to try and put a stop to opioid addiction altogether, so no other families have to go through such hardship.
Educating myself and my peers on opioid addiction is so important to me because when someone is educated on the effects and consequences of doing something, they will be less inclined to do it. Educating kids at a young age is also impor tant because that allows for the problem to be stopped before it even has a chance to become a problem…”
ANNA FERRIGINE TRINITY HALL
“…I do consider prescription opioid and heroin addiction to be two sides of the same coin.
…The most effective way to tackle a problem of this magnitude, with consequences that are so devastating, is to take immediate action and educate our own communities. …I think this can be done through social media and pamphlet distribution, among other things.
The second part of this is to have young people, like myself, take responsibility to educate our peers. Like so many other issues that seem too big, we as students must take it upon ourselves to save our friends, before addiction takes over their lives. We need to present at schools, from middle schools and up, by doing presentations on refusing to accept opioid prescriptions as acceptable for pain. …As young people we must tell our parents we do not want to be prescribed painkillers, which can addict us and lead to heroin use. I want other students to know they can refuse prescription and request lesser drugs, like NSAIDs(nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs) or alternative medicines, to control pain.”
EMILY AHEARN RED BANK CATHOLIC
“Drug addiction is prevalent in all communities, and is bigger than just a local or statewide problem; it occurs across the world. Addiction does not discriminate; it takes advantage of any person or even child, regardless of social, economic, or racial status. I want to be a part of the Tigger House Student Alliance because drug addiction is problem that everyone can work towards solving. I have seen how addiction destroys families and communities, my own included. It is important to be educated on drugs and addiction because understanding harmful effects of opioids can help push someone to stay away from drugs and the pressures of addiction. Education is also important because it teaches people to watch for signs that someone is struggling with addiction, and then sequentially know how to help that person get better.”
JOE DIBERNARDO CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ACADEMY
“…I want to know a lot more about drugs. What it is like to be an addict, how addicts feel, etcetera. …being in a conversation with an ex-addict would expose me much more and give me a full experience, hence the Tigger House Fund. …I want to be more educated so that if a friend of mine happens to be addicted to drugs, I can easily pick out their signs and get them the help they need. …I want to educate my friends and peers about what drugs really are. Because my friends, myself included, are quite naïve about drugs.”
JAIDEN DIEHL RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN REGIONAL
“…I had started to realize how much drugs and opiates affects thousands of daily lives. Upon entering high school this year, I am constantly surrounded by teenage mentality which lead me to understand why teenagers are so susceptible to opiates and drug influences. As I went through my freshman year, I noticed the need for education on this topic. …I find it abundantly impor tant to make sure that my fellow peers and friends are educated in this area. When it comes to drugs, I believe that many high school students do not realize the dangers of even simply trying it for once. …I feel as if we start this club and start to educate the students at RFH and neighboring high schools, then there is a greater chance that a person would think twice before taking that first pill. …Moreover, I am also able to conclude that drugs do not discriminate between genders or different kinds of people and addiction can happen to anyone.”
NBA star Grant Hill talks athletes & opioids
Throughout college and my 19-year NBA career, I experienced several injuries and underwent a total of 11 surgeries. I have dealt with multiple ankle surgeries, an abdominal surgery, knee surgeries…
The numbers are staggering. Every day, month and year, more and more people succumb to addictive behaviors. These are not people from some distant place; they are your friends, co-workers, family members, maybe even you.
Awareness alert from the prosecutors office: Tainted batch of heroin circulating!
“We had Eight overdoses that were reported to the hospital this weekend. Two of those people have died, and one young man tragically is on life support and I was just informed by the Family that they made the decision to remove him. Several of them are already on there way to treatment, thanks to the Recovery Specialists and the Treatment Providers . There is a tainted batch of heroin, believed to be laced with fentanyl or rat poison (pending tox) being distributed in this area. The State recorded of Naloxone reversals- 19 on Saturday and 26 on Sunday.”
Please spread the word to young adults, recovering addicts, parents, grandparents, etc.
N.J. Heroin overdose death rate is triple the soaring U.S. rate
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the rate of heroin overdose deaths has nearly tripled since 2010.
Monmouth County had among state’s highest increases in heroin deaths in 2014
State statistics released last week show that the state’s heroin epidemic continues to worsen in nearly all New Jersey counties.