Tri-State Opioid Epidemic: Struggles and Solutions Town Hall from Eyewitness News

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Friday, October 22, 2021
Town Hall: The Opioid Epidemic
Eyewitness News' Mike Marza hosts a discussion on the opioid epidemic, struggles and solutions, in the Tri-State

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News hosted a virtual town hall, "Tri-State Opioid Epidemic: Struggles and Solutions."

The town hall, hosted by Mike Marza, focused on the effects that the opioid crisis is having on communities in the Tri-State area.

You can watch the town hall here, but if you want to enjoy a better experience on your television set, just make sure you add the ABC7NY app to your streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) to check it out.

Meet the panelists:

-Vera Tkachuk, Assistant Dean at Fordham University, The School of Law, and founder of the Opioid Center for Support. She lost her son, Justin, to a fentanyl overdose several years ago.

-Fred Muench, President of Partnership to End Addiction, and a clinical psychologist who specializes in developing remote coaching and digital interventions to help individuals and families prevent and intervene in problematic substance use.

-Michael Litterer, Director of Prevention and Recovery at the RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) Institute for Prevention and Recovery (IFPR)

-Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey's largest safety-net hospital with over 500 licensed beds and $738.2 million inpatient service revenue. Previously, Dr. Elnahal served as New Jersey's 21st Commissioner of Health.

Resources from Partnership to End Addiction

Substance use and addiction affect more than 20 million Americans. Together with our many supporters, Partnership to End Addiction is helping families find answers.

Partnership to End Addiction helps families prevent and treat addiction and support recovery for their children and loved ones. They also work to improve the addiction treatment system and end the addiction crisis. Below, you can find more information on their resources.


Our helpline provides parents and caregivers with compassionate, one-on-one support. Our trained and caring bilingual (English/Spanish) specialists will listen to their challenges, co-construct action plans and provide resources to help parents help their child.

We offer many ways for families to connect with us:




-Facebook Messenger

Visit for more information.


Parents and caregivers can sign up to receive customized resources and skills delivered via text message. Parents can simply text JOIN to 55753 to take a brief assessment about their child's unique situation and begin receiving ongoing support.

We offer several science-based, specialized text programs including:

-Messages for parents who are concerned that their child may begin using substances

-Messages for parents who are not yet sure if they should be worried about their child's use

-Messages for parents looking to help a child who is actively using substances

-Specialized COVID-19 messages offering support for parents experiencing two crises

-Messages offering support as a loved one goes through treatment and recovery in a

-Medications for Addiction Treatment program

-New text programs in development include resilient relationships, recovery and treatment.

You can also text Rx to 55753 for messages on medication safety and medication alternatives.


Parents can connect to one of our trained volunteer parent coaches for free peer-to-peer support. This unique program provides families with guidance and support from a parent with lived experience and similarly struggled with a child's substance use.


Helpline specialists and specially trained parent coaches host a series of live online gatherings for parents to share insight and ideas on managing teen and adult children. These gatherings are an opportunity for parents and caregivers to find support and connection, along with tangible guidance on addressing substance use.


Our website has resources and tools to help parents and caregivers support their children - from prevention to recovery. Families can:

-Learn effective ways to communicate about substance use

-Develop behavior management skills to encourage healthier choices

Get hope and support from other parents

Opioid Center Service:

The Opioid Center of Support began its work with an exhaustive analysis of thousands of existing resources on opioid addiction across the internet. They gathered a team of leading data scientists and medical experts and scored every resource using advanced computer algorithms.

They work on the following:

-Focus on supporters and helpers, friends and families, classmates and colleagues, rather than the addicts themselves

-Algorithmically identify and score resources based on 'performance' to objectively curate resources in concert with the nation's leading experts on addiction

-Facilitate community and offer confidential and anonymous live chats as well as access to the highest performing helplines and support communities online

-Encourage users to donate anonymized data allows researchers to model early identification and intervention techniques on opioid addiction

-Ability to customize the experience by uploading the resources you find most helpful

Institute for Prevention and Recovery:

The RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery (IFPR) is a leader in creating the systems and services necessary to improve the health of communities throughout New Jersey. For over 30 years, IFPR has provided substance use disorder prevention programs, nicotine and tobacco treatment and innovative recovery support and social care services, taking a systems change approach to address social determinants of health and enhance care delivery systems throughout RWJBarnabas Health and New Jersey.

To learn more about the Institute for Prevention and Recovery programs available across New Jersey, please call today at (833) 233- IFPR (4377).


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