Branchburg, NJ) -Thanks to a local family that is turning their tragedy into healing, for their own family and others, a new support group is now available in the Somerset/Hunterdon County area for those who have lost a loved one to addiction. The Central NJ Chapter of GRASP, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing, formed in December 2013 and continues to meet the first Sunday of each month from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at Raritan Valley Community College. This group is open to anyone who has suffered a loss of a loved one, whether family member or friend, from any type of addiction or abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Deb and Gary Len lost their 24-year-old son to an accidental overdose on January 28, 2014. Deb Len explained, “After his death, I was desperate to find support to cope with this tragic loss to our family. I found GRASP. The fact that our children, some husbands, wives, and loved ones died from drug abuse places a whole different spin on the loss, as there is still so much stigma attached to addiction. The GRASP group takes this all away, and allows us to grieve, share and begin healing from our horrible losses.”
As Len found a source of healing and support through GRASP, she quickly saw a need for a local chapter. Len said, “The closest group available was in Freehold. I attended the group each month, and found great support and understanding from meeting all the other families who also had lost loved ones to this terrible epidemic.
Since all the GRASP chapters in existence were in the southern part of the state, I saw the need for this Central NJ chapter.”
In addition to GRASP, Len also became active in the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon/Somerset, a group that works to implement environmental strategies to eliminate drug use, underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is a primary partner of the Safe Communities Coalition and the location of the Coalition’s monthly meetings. When Deb Len approached the group seeking help in securing a location for a local GRASP chapter, RVCC was eager to provide the necessary meeting space. Amee Smolinsky, RVCC’s Health Educator and Outreach Specialist on the Safe Communities Coalition, points out that “RVCC’s location is ideally situated near Routes 78, 22 and 287,” making it easily accessible to residents of neighboring communities.
The success of this group in its short history is bittersweet – according to Len, “Sadly, in the only three meetings we have had, we have already grown from just two families, to seven.”
The Central NJ GRASP Chapter normally meets the first Sunday of each month at Raritan Valley Community College from 1:00 – 2:30 pm. The room location varies. Anyone interested in attending should contact Deb Len at 908-872- 1388 or CentralNJGRASP@gmail.com.
The Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset County meets on the third Tuesday of every month at RVCC from 9:30 to 11:00 am, while the Hunterdon Coalition meets the second Thursday of every month at Hunterdon Central High School from 9:00 – 10:15 am. Anyone wishing to join the Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset or Hunterdon Counties should contact Jerri Collevechio at (908) 782-3909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.