Rick and JoAnn Salcer lost their son to a heroin overdose. Shortly after, they attended their first Parents' Make the Right Choice meeting organized by Judge Mary Kaye Bozza. It was cathartic for them. They quickly learned they weren't alone and they met other parents who shared similar stories.
The program is targeted to parents of drug addicted defendants who go before the Judge in Lyndhurst Municipal Court. Now on its fifth year the program has impacted about 170 families.
The point is education. Meetings are held quarterly and various speakers are invited to provide valuable information to parents who may be devastated by their child's addiction.
Judge Bozza's goal is fourfold. She wants parents to get over the stigma of heroin addiction and learn how to better deal with their grief, guilt and enabling qualities that many parents find themselves doing.
Linda Walsh's son has been clean and sober two years yet she still attends meetings. She and the Salcers use their experiences to also help other families new to the program.
In her own words, why Judge Bozza started the Parents' Make The Right Choice program:
After 17 years as Judge of the Lyndhurst Municipal Court, I am saddened by the alarming rise in heroin addictions that affect our young adults. At the same time I realize the need to educate parents whose adult children are addicted to opiates. Accordingly, we created the Parents’ Make the Right Choice Program.
In addition to the increase in cases involving heroin, there was a personal inspiration to create this program. Two of my dear friends experienced this horror and lost their adult son to a heroin overdose in Lyndhurst approximately ten years ago. Each time I saw my friends, I witnessed the pain stemming from their broken hearts and broken dreams. The stigma of having an adult child die from a drug overdose prevents healing and closure. The sorrow this family experienced from their tremendous loss is now becoming a sorrowful reality for many families.
The Parents’ Make the Right Choice Program began on February 27, 2013, with our first meeting that started with a light dinner meal, introductions, an overview of opiate addiction, and a discussion about how we could make this program a success. Many parents made suggestions of topics of that they would like to hear at future meetings. It was a sharing of hurt, fear, hope and an eagerness to learn. The original parents who attended that first meeting showed great courage. By the end of the evening you could feel a sense of relief; that through this first meeting the parents found a safe environment and realized they were not alone facing this challenge. To date, over 150 families have been invited to this program.
The Lyndhurst Municipal Court intends to have its next Parents’ Program in May of 2017.