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Voice of the People, Sept. 13, 2021

Voice of the People, Sept. 13, 2021

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‘Addicts’ harmful term for users of opioids

I am the project director of the substance use prevention and treatment initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

I commend The Press for its recent editorial, “Atlantic City needle exchange should join mobile services for addicts,” calling for a mobile harm reduction program to help people in the region with opioid use disorder. Mobile units are often able to reach underserved populations, including people living in rural areas and individuals in jails and prisons.

However, some language used in the editorial contributes to the harmful stigma among policymakers, providers and even patients themselves about people who misuse drugs. The term “addict” diminishes people’s humanity — and fails to recognize that people with opioid use disorder have a chronic disease and are not defined by their opioid use. Research has shown that using person-first language instead, when talking about opioid use disorder and addiction, is critical to reducing stigma and encouraging more people to seek treatment.

In addition, although starting a mobile harm reduction program including needle exchange in Atlantic City is a welcome idea, accompanying that move with closing the existing fixed location of syringe service programs could harm people who need help. More than three decades of peer-reviewed research shows that syringe service programs can save lives by reducing rates of HIV and hepatitis C, increasing proper disposal of used needles, and ramping up engagement with treatment.

Beth Connolly

Asbury Park

Longport Beach Patrol lifeguard-racing dynasty

Longport Beach Patrol has a dynasty in the making in South Jersey Lifeguard Championships. Since 1924, lifeguards have been racing surfboats in the ocean. Unknowingly, those lifesaving pioneers started an almost 100-year tradition that has become a central part of the S.J. lifeguard culture.

LPBP has done something no other patrol has accomplished in its long rich history. They have won, and are untied, in the South Jersey Championships for five straight contests.

Winning the “Jersey’s,” as referred to by the S.J. lifeguard community, is not easy. Winning the Jersey’s once is very gratifying — five straight, untied championships is incredible.

There is no sign of LPBP letting up their drive to maintain their championship prominence among South Jersey Beach Patrols and grow their team victories. Clearly, the strong positive leadership under Chief Kelm and his staff is reflected in the patrol’s consistent outstanding performances. For sure, there will be 14 other patrols chasing LPBP down.

Thomas P. McCann

Vineland

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