Morris County & Sussex County Aftercare Centers
Client Advocacy Committee Members
To promote methadone, as prescribed, administered, and monitored by professional care givers, as an effective treatment for those suffering from opiate addiction. The Committee’s purpose is to educate the public, the criminal justice system, treatment professionals and funding providers of the efficacy of methadone, particularly for those who have tried and failed repeatedly at medication free treatment.
The Committee aspires to create an atmosphere in which methadone treatment is affordable and accessible and that those opting for this form of treatment can do so without fear of stigma, discrimination or disapproval through:
- Advocating with funding providers for resources necessary to provide comprehensive substance abuse treatment, with methadone being a component of same.
- Partnering with criminal justice professionals to ensure collaboration on shared clients and to advocate for the use of methadone as an effective form of treatment for opiate abuse.
- Educating the public, particularly employers, on the difference between opiate addiction and the use of methadone as a means of treatment.
- Reaching out directly to the addicted and their family members to explain the science of addiction; to debunk myths about methadone; and to suggest it as a form of treatment, particularly for those who have tried and failed repeatedly at medication free treatment.
- Encouraging alternatives to incarceration in cases of non-violent drug related offenses, allowing offenders to remain in the community where they are best able to receive appropriate treatment and most likely to become productive citizens.
- Ensuring that drug courts and other probation programs and practices permit and do not discriminate against those opting for medication assisted treatment such as methadone.
Elliott Ruga, Chairman
Mr. Ruga is the Policy & Communications Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition:
- Elliott has over 25 years of advocacy experience promoting the missions of non-profit corporations.
- Policy & Communications Director, New Jersey Highlands, where he has been on staff since November 2007.
- New Jersey Highlands Coalition represents 106 member organizations advocating for the protection of the natural and cultural resources of the New Jersey Highlands region, which incorporates 88 municipalities across seven counties.
- Elliott leads the implementation of advocacy and educational campaigns and promotes policies that serve the mission of the Coalition at the municipal, county, regional, state, and federal levels.
- Elliott testifies frequently at legislative committee hearings in Trenton, he has developed relationships with many state legislators and the Governor’s policy staff and has helped develop new legislation.
- Elliott consults with senior staff at several state agencies including the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the NJ Highlands Council, and the NJ Historic Preservation Office. Elliott frequently provides written and oral testimony at public hearings for rule proposals and other administrative actions.
- Elliott is a registered Government Affairs Agent.
- Elliott has worked with the NJ members of the U.S. Congress and with Senator Cory Booker and senior staff on federal environmental policy issues and federal funding for open space preservation.
- Elliott has commented on many municipal Planning and Land Use Board and municipal governing body hearings.
- Elliott is familiar with the NJ Administrative Code, NJ Register, Administrative Procedures Act, and Municipal Land Use Law.
- In his hometown of Boonton, Elliott is chairman of the Boonton Historic Preservation Commission and he is the founding chairman of the Boonton Trails Committee.
- Elliott has published editorials in all of New Jersey’s daily news outlets and has a syndicated column in 14 weekly newspapers published by the New Jersey Hills Media Group.
- Elliott worked in radio and television production and broadcast operations at NBC for 17 years.
- Elliott is the recipient of two Emmy Awards for technical achievement for his work on NBC’s broadcasts of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Mr. Davis has been a practicing attorney in New Jersey since 1983. His initial work was in real estate development but since 1990 Mr. Davis is one of the few attorneys in New Jersey who specializes in representing those whose property is needed by government for public use through acquisition by eminent domain. Mr. Davis work involves ensuring that those who are affected by eminent domain are adequately compensated and are given a means to purchase replacement property. He also works to ensure that adequate relocation assistance is provided when government projects causes the displacement of individuals and businesses.
Mr. Davis has seen firsthand the devastation wrought by opiate abuse. There is a successful, proven treatment for opiate abuse and addiction – methadone, properly dispensed by facilities such as Morris County Aftercare. Unfortunately, methadone as a medically assisted treatment for opiate addiction is all too often surrounded by ignorance, misconceptions, and in some instances blatant untruths. This is in addition to the societal stigma attached to those who choose what is actually the best and for many people the only successful option for opoid dependence. As a result, person who could be leading normal productive lives remain mired in dependence on illegal and dangerous substances. Mr. Davis hopes that his work on the Committee will assist in removing the myths attached to medically assisted treatment.
MaryLynn Schiavi, Communications Director
MaryLynn Schiavi is a writer, tv/video producer and communications strategist. She is the author of a monthly column for Gannett publiations called IMAGINE focused on innovation. In addition to serving as a civil mediator in New Jersey, she is the producer and host of Pro Se Nation: understand the law for oneself distributed by Princeton Community TV.
Pro Se Nation is designed to help the average non-lawyer better understand the law and justice issues. She also served as the writer, producer, and host for Emmy Award winning Matter & Beyond, a television program exploring the philosophical and ethical dimensions of science and technology.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political theory at New York University and studied religious philosophy at Drew University Graduate School.
After 33 years working for Probation Services in Morris and Sussex Counties, Jonathan Bell recently retired as the Vicinage Chief Probation Officer. Over the past decade he witnessed an explosion in opioid addiction with all of it’s consequences: repeated relapses, arrests, breakup of families, unemployment, failed treatment attempts and far too many overdose deaths. He believes that medication- assisted treatments such as methadone, when properly administered and supervised, as is done at Morris County Aftercare, offers an alternative to this downward spiral for those committed to recovery but who have been unable to conquer their addiction through drug-free rehabilitation, counseling, 12 step and prayers alone.
And Mr. Bell is committed to removing the stigma associated with the use of these medically approved treatment alternatives such as Methadone which signify the difference for many between healthy, productive lives and lives filled with turmoil, unemployment, hospitals, jails, and deaths due to overdose.
Ms. Tangara is currently the President and Executive Director of Resource Center for the Chemically Dependent, Inc. DBA Morris County Aftercare Center (MCAC) and Sussex Country Aftercare Center (SCAC), outpatient medication-assisted facilities, licensed by the DEA, the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services and CARF Accredited.