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Coping with Substance Abuse in the Community

As many of you know, for years our law offices have represented people who have criminal charges as a result of substance abuse. Frequently, when clients arrive at court they are committing a crime or municipal offense because of an addiction. In the last few years, I have spoken publicly about how our law firm represents clients in these situations with care and compassion.

I realized during the pandemic and going forward it was time to make a difference by sharing my experiences, positive and negative, my legal knowledge, and changes in the law with the community in which I was raised and work. Once a month, through the Edison Chamber of Commerce, I am a featured speaker with other practitioners who work directly with individuals who struggle with substance abuse. During these panels, we discuss the challenges faced by those with substance abuse issues. The audience is encouraged to ask us questions. Our panel makes an effort to include persons in recovery who are able to share their struggles and the steps they have taken to recover and become positive, contributing members of their communities. They also share with the audience the signs to look for in someone with a substance abuse issue. We are proud to say that this panel is now broadcast on cable TV for many towns throughout Middlesex County.

By being a member of this panel I’m able to help and advise people who are in dire situations due to substance abuse issues. My role on the panel is to emphasize how the courts and prosecutors are more compassionate than ever in New Jersey regarding substance abuse. For instance, Drug Courts are now in effect throughout New Jersey, encouraging recovery over punishment in the Superior Courts. Additionally, a new aspect of Drug Court is that once a person completes the program, any charges prior to Drug Court are now eligible to be expunged. Also, the municipal courts have created something similar in Middlesex County, known as the Blue Cares Program. This program assigns a Recovery Coach if one is charged with a violation related to substance abuse. Once the person charged does all they can to stop using drugs and passes regular drug screenings, the municipal matter can be dismissed. These examples show how far the courts have come in the past few years to be supportive and rehabilitate people with drug issues.

My personality is to fight for clients always. However, on a Tuesday night once a month, I am able to demonstrate how my fighting can be channeled into compassion and support. Anyone in the community is welcome to watch the panel. Please contact the Edison Chamber of Commerce to receive the link. During the panel people ask poignant questions and I realize that we are making a difference. In the business of law, I see many tragedies because someone was not able to provide the necessary help for a substance abuse issue. I am humbled to think that the knowledge we impart once a month can save a life!

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