Aly and her mom posingFeatured Story: Steered Straight’s Aly

In order to escape the pain of a traumatizing past, and the pain of losing someone close, Aly turned to heroin as a release. The more she felt the stinging in her veins, the more her painful memories sank deeper into the abyss of her subconscious. In order to free herself from the pressure to perfect herself, she didn’t pass up the opportunity to banish all the hurt, when offered. After a relapse, a deadly car accident, consuming suicidal thoughts, and a hefty prison sentence, Aly finally snapped back to reality. Asking for help, was the most noble and courageous decision she made. Turning tragedy into triumph, shaped her into the amazing, sober woman she is now.

Aly resides in Berlin, NJ, and has the love of her family, supporting her on her road to recovery. Aly’s biggest supporter is her inspiring, strong-willed mother. Alongside Michael DeLeon, Aly travels to schools, sharing her inspiring story to students. When she grabbed ahold of life’s hand, and boldly pulled herself out of the bottomless trenches, she realized her one voice can become powerful, when the rest of the world is silent.

Aly’s message: “If I can at least help one boy, or one girl, I’m getting some where.”

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Originally Published In The CMC Herald

Heroin: CMC’s Fastest Growing Epidemic
By: Jessica Osborn

Syringe going into armHeroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk or quinine.

In 2013, a study, conducted in 28 states (New Jersey included) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proved to have disturbing results: “Fatal overdoses involving men (6,525 deaths) were four times higher than women, (1,732 deaths) due to heroin. “With these results, in addition to the number of fatalities in Cape May County, we have earned ourselves the title of “No. 1 of 45 towns, with the most drug overdoses due to heroin.”

Not too long ago, I was driving around in Villas and I saw signs all down Bayshore Road that read, “Just say NO to heroin!” Concerned citizens were reaching out to the general public, warning them to stay away from this “highly addictive drug.”

Is it really that bad in this overly-populated, tourist county? Well, that is what I had asked myself when I came across a startling new discovery; “an analysis by NJ Advance Media shows that the heroin overdose death rate in New Jersey is more than triple the rate released by the CDC, and it now eclipses homicide, suicide, car accidents, and AIDS, as a cause of death in that state.” When the epidemic started to spread like wildfire back in 2013, there were three overdoses in May of that year. Two out of the three overdoses were fatal, and one managed to pull through, after the paramedics had to revive him.

In the news, on local radio stations and in the local papers, “the Wildwood Police Department was alerted to a medical emergency for a 58-year-old male in the City of Wildwood, and just prior to this medical episode, this male had purchased and ingested an amount of heroin.” I happen to be related to “this man,” a man who had become just another statistic. My heart had broken, knowing he was old enough to know better, but he was too selfish to care. I understand that times get rough but is it that bad that you have to resort to sticking a needle into your vein? Also, I understand that addiction is a disease but do you know what the most effective way is to “kick the habit”? Never pick it up.

When I was 7 years old, we had to bury my 21-year-old cousin. After realizing that the overdose had damaged her brain too severely to function, she had to be taken off of life support. I am 26 years old now, and I still see families being destroyed due to heroin. Ever since I lost my cousin, I never once thought about touching any drug. It breaks my heart seeing these statistics in my hometown, and it breaks my heart knowing that these poor people feel as if they have no way out of their pain, that they must resort to taking drugs. Drugs, especially heroin, will only make matters worse.

I guarantee you there is at least one person out there who would gladly get you over the hurdles. “Never look down on a person unless you are helping them up.” I’m sure people are having it rough nowadays. In fact, I know it’s tough, but that rush you feel for a few minutes after injecting heroin into your veins, is it worth the pain you leave your family with when you die?

Jessica Osborn, Steered Straight