Take a quick bow, Robbinsville.

Then let’s get back to the work of eliminating COVID-19 from our community.

Through July 22, Robbinsville was down to 22 active cases of coronavirus. Even more encouraging news was an uptick in the amount of patients presenting as asymptomatic.

While we continue to mourn the six cherished lives we’ve lost, along with the economic and personal toll the virus has taken on many, a second pandemic has emerged since shutdowns across the country began in March. The use of opiates, alcohol and other drugs are on the rise, as is the number of individuals struggling with mental health. Suicide rates also are increasing.

The American Medical Association reports “more than 35 states showing increases in opioid-related mortality, as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder.”

The combination of COVID-19, stay at home orders, the lack of in-person treatment options, increases in unemployment and a multitude of emotional, physical and fiscal challenges have led to increased addiction. Needless to say, these are very difficult times for many – especially those already fighting the uphill battle of addiction. Locally, the Community Addiction Recovery Effort (C.A.R.E.) and its partners have seen a marked increase in detoxification admissions, which is why we have to keep working to get people the help they need.

“Even decades-long recovering addicts are finding maintaining sobriety during the pandemic exceptionally difficult,” Roy Leitstein, CEO of Legacy Treatment Services and C.A.R.E. board member, said. “We are all trying our best to meet this unprecedented demand as safely, efficiently and effectively as possible.”

With C.A.R.E. serving as the fiscal sponsor, we raised $51,525 through the 2020 State of Robbinsville Township Pay it Forward event. The C.A.R.E. program is working, and has been adopted by every municipality in Mercer County. We need to stay the course and not leave some of our most vulnerable behind.

Virtual treatment and recovery programs also are available. Legacy and many other facilities have embraced home-based treatment modalities that were once restricted. Telehealth/Telepsych is available to anyone with addiction and/or mental health needs —regardless of insurance.

NJ Mental Health Cares is the state’s behavioral health information and referral service. It is available to help those dealing with anxiety and worry related to the pandemic. Call 1-866-202-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support.

I am so proud of everyone who has done their part to get us where we are today. Are we all the way back? No. Are we on the right path? Absolutely! Once one of the world’s hotspots, New Jersey has seen a consistent decrease in active cases over the past two months.

Let’s keep trending in the right direction by social distancing whenever possible, wearing face coverings and washing your hands multiple times per day. There is light at the end of this long, winding tunnel.

Until we get there, let’s continue to help each other, be patient with each other and be kind to one another.