May 28, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 28, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

There Is More to Be Done to Address Substance Abuse

On April 22 I joined hundreds of fellow Bergen County residents at a standing-room-only event to raise awareness of the addiction and substance abuse in our community. I salute the Formans, who came forward with their family’s story and spearheaded this effort. Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, through his important article in The Jewish Link (“Don’t Say No to Drugs,” April 15, 2018) and his stirring presentation Sunday evening, has challenged our community to speak about this issue facing our children—all of them.

Being a psychologist in schools for over 22 years, as I attended the evening I considered what was missing and why we still need to be having such evenings. About 20 years ago, guidance staff from BJE high schools met together to create a substance-abuse-awareness week consisting of programming and workshops for parents and students. As the years progressed, high schools implemented social/emotional curricula—including substance-abuse workshops and programs.

In 2008, our Yeshiva Counseling Network guidance group joined forces with the Orthodox Union to form a Safe Schools pact to assert the importance of creating and maintaining a substance-free environment through proactive student education, parent education and partnership, and appropriate responses to substance use by students to ensure they receive treatment and the support they need.

Here we are in 2018 facing the same realities. As was stressed in the evening, substance abuse often begins with children struggling with mental health issues. Unlike the programming and community initiatives described in the past 20 years, I believe this area has not at all been addressed. We do not have a Jewish therapeutic school for children who cannot make it in mainstream yeshiva settings due to their emotional needs. I am waiting for the next night when the community gets together and proclaims that we need a Jewish therapeutic school.

I again am grateful for the Formans’ courage in coming forward. They clearly demonstrated the importance of lifting the stigma from this disease so that people do not feel alone and families can get help. I hope that evening is the impetus for more action so we need not have such an evening again.

Aliza Frohlich

Bergenfield

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles