At vigil, advocates call for mental health services for those battling addiction

For those who have been around someone struggling with addiction, it can carry shame and be difficult to discuss openly.

The Somerset County Municipal Alliance is a community-based prevention organization for alcoholism, tobacco and other drug abuse. Its coordinator, Jennifer Sorensen is currently in recovery and has also battled with mental health issues. She says research shows that there is a direct correlation between both disorders.

“When you look at discharge data from people who exit treatment in our county, about 40% of them leave treatment for addiction with a mental health condition,” she said.

That’s why she says it was important to add suicide prevention to the agenda for the county’s third annual overdose awareness vigil held at Raritan Valley Community College. The event included a panel of speakers, on-site support and resources and a candlelight vigil. Those who attended were also able to write the names or memory of a loved one that passed away from an overdose and or a suicide.

Those who have dealt with addiction say it’s important for family and friends to never give up hope and to remind those struggling with addiction that a drug overdose and suicide are permanent outcomes to a temporary situation.