New Jersey County Sees 25% Drop In Overdoses With Help From CURE Program

By Dorri Olds 06/13/16

Though heroin remains a major problem throughout Cape May County, community efforts are helping to counteract the impact of the epidemic.

New Jersey County Sees 25% Drop In Overdoses With Help From CURE Program
Photo YouTube/NJTV News

A recent drop in drug overdoses in Cape May County, New Jersey, offers hope to a nation in crisis. Overdoses in the first quarter of the year have dropped from 47 in 2014 to 28 in 2015 to just 21 this year, according to Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor.  

The drop is credited, in part, to the CURE (Christians United for Recovery) program, which meets weekly at the Lighthouse Church in Middle Township. The program, which started two years ago, has reportedly helped 1,400 people get treatment for substance abuse. CURE’s website describes it as a clearinghouse of services, agencies, facilities, and ministries that address three key aspects of addiction: the need for helping, healing and hoping.

The Fix reached out to Sueanne Agger, the team leader for CURE’s "Street Team" and the director of ASAP (Advocating Substance Abuse Program). "Two years ago we started CURE," Agger tells The Fix. "We volunteers go out and try to help people that are using. We try to motivate them to get into treatment. The Street Team began with volunteers going out to distribute brochures with a voicemail number they could call. Then it evolved when more people started calling us because they’d heard about CURE. People on Facebook have heard what I’m doing and they send private messages to me that say, 'I need help.'"

Agger describes another initiative that CURE launched in December. “Hospitals call us when they have a patient with a substance use disorder or alcoholism and we’ll go talk to that person.” 

The CURE Family Crisis Team offers support to anyone who is affected by a loved one's addiction, while the Resources Team provides practical guidance and helpful information to aid in the battle against addiction. CURE offers various 12-step groups and guidance, connecting those in recovery to life skills and social connections. There are also outreach groups for siblings.

The confidential hotline (888-222-2228) manned by—a nonprofit organization created to serve New Jersey residents ages 10-24—is another resource for the Garden State recovery community. When CURE is unable to answer the phone, its outgoing message directs callers to this hotline. “We are open 24/7, 365 days a year,” Liz Graham, the director of the 2ndfloor hotline, tells The Fix. “A lot of different organizations use us if somebody needs help when others aren’t available. We’re a youth hotline for ages 10 to 24. Our callers turn to us for anything and everything—we get a lot of mental health calls and substance abuse calls. You can also text to that same number or write on our website’s message board.”

While CURE is a Christian nonprofit, you do not have to be Christian to receive their help. "We have all different types of classes,” Agger says. “If we’re not meeting an addict’s needs, there are many other resources in the community—intensive outpatient, acupuncture, yoga, meditation. There are many ways that people can maintain sobriety when they come back from treatment."

Call CURE Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST at 609-778-2009.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.