Jewish Family Services Hires Substance Use Coordinator, Forms Task Force

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Staff report

Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services has created a new Substance Use program to focus on education, prevention and awareness activities in the Jewish Community.

To implement the program, JFS has created a task force and hired a substance use coordinator to help facilitate efforts.

“According to Palm Healthcare Foundation, Palm Beach County has become an epicenter in the state for the deadly opioid crisis,” said Danielle Hartman, JFS President & CEO. “The upward trend of fatalities continues, and the county recorded nearly 600 fatal overdoses in 2017.” [Feb 2018 Report] “Unfortunately, this disease has claimed the lives of several young adults in our community and JFS, in partnership with the Jewish Federation, felt like the time was right for us to move in this direction.”

JFS hired Certified Addiction Counselor Sharon Burns-Carter, to serve as the Substance Use Coordinator for south Palm Beach County. She will provide information and referral information to struggling families and individuals and will spearhead efforts related to programming.

She has served as a volunteer and advisor to the Jewish Recovery Center for the past several years. She will continue to work in that role under the direction of Rabbi Meir Kessler and connect families to recovery in a Jewish context.

Sharon and the Task Force have developed a Substance Use Resource Guide, which lists all known groups meeting in local Jewish institutions and includes information on how to access other meetings taking place around the county.

The Task Force, in partnership with Alpert JFCS, is currently working on creating an educational series which will kick off in the fall. Some of the topics being planned include Substance Use 101, What is Addiction, What are Gateway Drugs and Myth Busters.

Burns-Carter has more than two decades of experience and knowledge in the area of substance use.

Burns-Carter said, “This coming September is National Recovery Month, and both JFS and Alpert are asking Palm Beach County synagogues and Jewish community organizations to partake by speaking about Substance Use and Recovery some time during the month. Facts about the topic, including some Frequently Asked Questions, will be provided and JFS welcome any opportunity to partake in these events throughout the month with the goal being to dispel the shame and stigma experienced in the Jewish community related to substance use and related disorders.”

For more information on the task force and future programming, contact Sharon Burns-Carter, JFS Substance Use Coordinator at 561-702-7603 or email sharonb@ralesjfs.org.