Member Spotlight – March 2023
Our Member Spotlight for the month of March is
Our Member Spotlight for the month of March is Laura Jennings-Pitt and Prevention is Key!
Prevention is Key (PIK) was founded in 1989 as the Morris Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse by a mother whose son struggled with substance abuse. At the time, support services were rare or difficult to find and many individuals were unable to find the help they needed. Originally founded as an information/referral service, the agency quickly recognized the need to provide comprehensive recovery support. In 1990, a tragic trend was identified as a surge in opioid related deaths emerged. This time period has become recognized as the first of three waves of loss that have defined this public health crisis. The first wave of loss was driven by the overuse and diversion of prescription opioids. The second wave was marked by a rise in heroin-related deaths. The third wave began when synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, were introduced to the market. Data indicates a fourth wave looming with yet another sharp increase in substance-related deaths. With such tragic loss being predicted, it has become even more pressing to act. Each individual who loses their battle is a son, daughter, mother, father, friend or other loved one gone too soon. This crisis requires us to pursue smart and compassionate policies focused on solutions.
We support individuals from all backgrounds with substance use disorders or at risk of substance misuse, including youth, adults, seniors, men, women, LGBTQ+, criminal offenders, individuals with disabilities and individuals with co-occurring disorders. Originally incorporated to provide culturally competent professional prevention and early intervention for residents of all ages in the thirty-nine municipalities of Morris County, PIK expanded in 2014 to provide recovery support services and prevention education to residents in a total of eight New Jersey Counties including Sussex, Bergen, Hudson, Warren, Essex, Passaic, and Burlington. In 2021, our recovery programs provided direct benefit to 12,269 duplicated individuals and 3,502 unduplicated individuals.
Sadly, stigma remains the biggest barrier to participation in recovery services due to social pressure. Many individuals report feeling fear or embarrassment that prevents them from pursuing recovery support services. Factors that contribute to stigma include blame, stereotypes, and the perception of substance misuse as a moral failing. In order to sustain recovery, there must be a community that understands the challenges of substance use disorder (SUD) as well as the benefits of recovery. In an effort to build and sustain this community, PIK trains and employs Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists (CPRS). CPRS candidates are individuals who have lived experience with problematic substance use and recovery. Certification requires the completion of a 46-hour instructional course designed and delivered by PIK and approved by the New Jersey Addiction Certification Board. Completion of the course is followed by 500-hours of service to earn their certification from the New Jersey Addiction Certification Board, which is reciprocal with 27 other states and permits the possibility of employment in the field of recovery support services in a wide variety of locations. PIK also provides community level, environmental prevention programs that target the population at-large, seeking to change attitudes, and practices around problematic substance use.