‘Heroin Kills’ looks to help those addicted to opioid drugs
Heroin Kills is an organization comprised of almost 30 volunteers. The group has been operating in areas such as Trenton and Hamilton. However, the group is moving south to the Medford area and looking to help those who are addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin.
Tom “Red” Clark is one of the founders of Heroin Kills. The nonprofit organization helps addicts find treatment facilities, helps with interventions and even helps the families learn more about the addiction itself and how they can help.
“We are not in it for the money,” Clark said. “We just want to be able to help these people out. Not just the addicts, but the families too because, when this disease hits somebody, it contaminates the people around them. For me, it is such an awesome blessing to have so many people willing to take time out of their hectic life just to volunteer and help out.”
According to the most recent available data from the 2016 state Department of Human Services Substance Abuse Overview report, 1,216 people from Burlington County were admitted to a treatment facility in 2015 for heroin and other opioid drugs. Medford and Medford Lakes saw 36 admissions.
The group has already been in Medford, looking for places where people, primarily teenagers, are converging.
“What we do is we bring it to the streets,” Clark added. “For a lot of the kids, their family may have kicked them out. They have lost hope. They do not know where to find help. Not to bad mouth politicians, but they are giving us these 800 numbers to call. The numbers are OK, but they do not do anything. These kids are not going to sit on the phone for an hour waiting for someone to help them. Then, if they do not have insurance, then they are really screwed. What we are going to do in the Medford area is be out there in the open and let people see who we are. Our shirt stands out. It attracts people, and it attracts these kids. In the Medford and surrounding areas, they are going to see us out there in the streets and let the kids know that there is someone out there for them. If nothing else, it gives them someone to talk to who will not judge them and knows what they are going through.”
Heroin Kills has helped people get into facilities across the state. Optimally, none of these cases would have happened. Clark has an idea where most of the cases of opioid addiction begin.
“The problem is the prescription pills, that is where most of the people who become addicted get started,” he said. “The kids start with the pills whether they are hurt or because of injury or they start dabbling in school. They become addicted to the pills. Once the pills are taken away from them, they start buying them on the street. It gets expensive, becoming $20 to $80 per pill. Now if someone gives them a $10 bag of heroin that does just as much if not more than the pills, they are off to the races.”
One of the 30 volunteers for the organization is Judy Kraemer, a Medford resident who is the director of social media for Heroin Kills.
“I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with Heroin Kills,” Kraemer said. “I feel like this is where God wants me to be, and I can feel His presence so deeply every time I get to help someone find their way. I hope my reaching out to the people of Medford and the surrounding areas will save at least one person from this horrid drug. Don’t ever worry about being judged; heroin has no prejudices. The best thing for me is when I hear Red say ’We saved another life.’ I cry every time.”
Clark does have some advice for families who have loved ones who are battling addiction but not yet reached out for help.
“Do not be afraid to bring it out in the open,” Clark said. “That is the biggest thing. People are either ashamed or embarrassed. People do not want anyone to know that his or her family member is shooting heroin. They do not want to admit it. Bring it out into the open. Find someone out there who can help them.”
More information about Heroin Kills can be found on their website, heroinkillsnj.org, or by calling or texting (609) 222–2189.