More funding, not cuts, needed for drug-addiction care

By Kevin Canessa Jr.

At first, it cost the guy $100 per visit. Then, as the weeks went by, a $20 on the doctor’s desk was more than enough to get him to write a prescription for whatever it was he wanted. It was 2006, and he had complete access to a physician who retired” from his practice years earlier — and who wanted to just make a quick buck or a thousand.

It was narcotic pain killers he wrote the prescriptions for each week, probably for hundreds of people.Appointments weren’t necessary — and most of the time, there was a line of people waiting to get from the reception area back to see the doctor.

Most of the time, for this man, it was a wait for Vicodin. The doctor let the patient tell him how many pills for which he should write the script.

While he was a willing participant — and was fully to blame for the mess he got himself into — the ease by which it all came for this guy was staggering. Perhaps things have changed since, but all he had to do was take a 30-minute drive to West New York to legally feed his addiction to pain killers.

And a doctor who took an oath to “Do No Harm” made it so easy.

Never did he need a “dealer.” A “hook-up” wasn’t required. It was as simple as going to get antibiotics and a cough syrup for an upper-respiratory infection.

Fortunately, this man’s addiction didn’t last long — it lasted six months, relatively brief, all things considered. But for so many others, the addiction lasts so much longer and often, there appears to be no help in sight.

Fortunately, we live in a state where help is easily available. He’s done very little good in his seven-plus years as governor, but Chris Christie has left a good legacy when it comes to the treatment of addicts. In fact, it’s fair to say he leads the way in the nation in that regard. Don’t believe it? You mustn’t watch much TV.

But now comes word there could be cuts to addiction funding — and mental-health funding (the two often go hand-in-hand) — from Washington, D.C.

The timing couldn’t be worse.

One only needs to read the pages of this newspaper to see just how bad the addiction crisis is locally and nationally. In the police blotters, it seems every single week there are people being arrested on heroin-possession charges. Occasionally, we read about NARCAN saves, when police officers, EMTs and firefighters save someone from an overdose. Even worse, we far too often see obituaries for young people and old who have lost their lives to addiction.

This isn’t the time to be cutting help for addiction — it’s quite the opposite. And hopefully, someone, somewhere, will get that sense and reverse the proposal to cut federal funding.

Why do I care so much? In addition to having lost several relatives to addiction, that guy who used to go to West New York to get his painkillers for $20 a script?

That was me.

Odds & ends

Sadness for QPHS students

I can’t help but feel sadness for the kids at Queen of Peace High School who will have to complete their high school careers at other schools now that the place is closing at the end of next month.

Imagine being a rising senior. For three years, they’ve worked to become the leaders of QPHS — and when the time finally arrives, boom! They’re forced to go to new schools where friendships are already long-established. There’s trying to fit in in co-curricular activities or on sports teams. I could go on forever here. These teens are going to have a rough go of it, no matter where they wind up next school year.

This closure, meanwhile, like every other Catholic school closure, begs a question I’ve wondered about every time this happens: Why does it take so long to learn that an academic institution is in financial distress? We only find out about these schools’ finances when it’s (generally) too late. Did no one detect the school was struggling prior to last year? The same can be said of St. Anthony’s, or Marist, or any number of schools whose doors have been shut (though Marist has a one-year reprieve.)

Such a shame.

‘Would of?’ ‘Could of?’ What?

So, last week, in this space, my colleague, Ron Leir, wrote about some of his grammatical peeves.(see the first word of this sentence.) Allow me, therefore, to share mine.

There is would have. There is would’ve. But there is no such animal as “would of.” To this day, especially on social media, it drives me nuts when adults write: “I would of gone had I known the event was today.”

When someone writes “would of” or “could of,” they’re writing what they hear, sort of. But it’s wrong. Terribly wrong. What they’re actually hearing — and should be writing — is “would’ve” and “could’ve.”

OK end grammar rant.

Memorial Day thanks

While I do hope you all enjoy the time off that comes in marking Memorial Day, I won’t wish you a Happy Memorial Day, because in reality, there’s nothing happy about recalling those whose lives were lost in service to our nation’s military. I do hope, however, sometime this weekend, we all pause to give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free. (And thank you, Karen Zautyk, for reminding me of this last week.)

That’s all for now. See you back here in three weeks.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer, Kevin Canessa Jr. Reach Canessa by email at or on Facebook and Twitter @kevincanessa. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.