red bank lindsay ashwal 083120Monmouth County Drug Court prosecutor Lindsay Ashwal was among a series of speakers to advocate for destigmatizing opioid addiction when she addressed an audience of about 75 gathered to mark Overdose Awareness Day at Count Basie Fields in Red Bank Monday.

Tigger House Foundation founder Lisa Stavola speaking at the event. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Ashwal said the drug court team works “to provide structure and encouragement to those suffering from substance abuse disorder.”

As part of that effort, the prosecutor’s office this year created an Opioid Diversion Program to steer “low-level, non-violent drug abusers to treatment instead of traditional prosecution,” Ashwal said.

The office also maintains a 24-hour hotline staffed by peer recovery specialists where the addicted can get help. The number is 833-OHH-CARE.

The commemorative day “is a platform for all of us” to understand more about substance abuse disorder, said Lisa Stavola, founder of Tigger House Foundation, named for her late son, Richard ‘Tigger’ Stavola Jr., an overdose victim at the age of 25 in 2013. “It will be a platform for change.”

The main entrance to Count Basie Fields was decorated with purple flags to connote the 99 victims of fatal overdoses in Monmouth County in just the first six months of 2020. Similar displays were created outside municipal buildings throughout the county.