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"People need to hear that they are not alone, that this not your fault, this is not because of your parenting," said Etiel.He hopes the event, sponsored by Amudim, will launch an ongoing conversation, allowing those grappling with addiction to get support and resources.Her family adheres to the kosher dietary laws and observes the Sabbath.But the opiate epidemic raging across the country has seeped into nearly every community, and the Orthodox population is not immune. Applications to kosher drug rehab are soaring, Narcan is being carried by Hatzalah ambulances, which serve Jewish neighborhoods, and rabbis are being trained to deal with addiction.When Elana finally agreed to go for treatment, Lianne and Etiel had no idea what the next step was. "We were scrambling." In a better scenario they would have had input from a veteran parent who had been in their shoes.Instead, the couple furiously worked the phones and prayed for the best.Rabbi Zvi Gluck, founder of the New York-based Amudim, an international crisis intervention organization that serves the Orthodox population, said there have been 277 confirmed deaths of Orthodox Jews under age 35 due to opioid overdoses in the region.He believes there are more that have not been acknowledged.
Even the most attentive and loving parents can miss the signs of addiction, or not know where to turn for help, the Formans say.The Formans desperately sought out other families of addicts whom they could to talk to. They yearned to be with people who would instantly understand without judging.But despite the prevalence of the drug problem, they felt like they were the only ones."We might have been able to get resources and help quicker, but there just wasn't any dialogue or information available from other parents," he said. The Formans are coming forward to share their story at a forum on addiction Sunday night at Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck.A panel of experts, including a clinician, a rabbi and a recovering addict, will discuss how the Orthodox community can better respond to the scourge of addiction.
Once in college, however, she turned to harder drugs.