Atlantic County, NJ while best known for its Steel Pier, casinos, and picturesque seaside communities is also dealing with a prescription drug and heroin epidemic. Atlantic, like every other county in NJ and throughout the U.S., is looking for ways to address this public health and safety crisis.
One of the most effective ways to develop a comprehensive response to any public health issue is to bring together experts, community leaders, the faith-based community and, most importantly, impacted families to begin a dialogue.
Based on this proven formula, we invite all residents of Atlantic County and the surrounding communities to participate in the first Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall on Monday, April 10, 2017. The Town Hall will be held at Stockton University – Alton Auditorium from 3:30pm to 6pm. Please join the conversation as we discover best practices to address this epidemic and share these ideas with communities throughout NJ.
Click the read more link to register for this Town Hall at Stockton University.
Please forward this invitation to friends, colleagues, and family that are interested.
In reviewing the responses from doctors who attended a Do No Harm Symposium hosted by PDFNJ, a common theme was the need to evaluate and update prescribing habits. Based on new information regarding the highly addictive qualities of opiates, I am so pleased to see that some members of the medical community are embracing this lifesaving change. Specifically, a recent study at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center demonstrated that limiting the prescribing of opioids did not cause any negative reactions by individuals recovering from surgery.
When we started this blog in June 2013 there were infrequent articles and stories about the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. It wasn’t unusual for weeks to go by without any significant news coverage of this epidemic tearing apart families and communities throughout our country. What a difference four years makes. From this week alone I would like to share with you three featured articles that address this crisis from distinct perspectives.
The first article appeared in NJ’s Asbury Park Press and discusses the complicated issue parents face about sharing their own personal experiences with drug use and experimentation. The second story is from The Inquirer, a Philadelphia newspaper, and explores how a labor union has been directly impacted by the tragedy of opioid dependency and heroin addiction. It further describes how the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is taking their message to the streets. Finally, in what most observers are calling a monumental turning point, Governor Hogan of Maryland has declared a state of emergency in response to the opioid crisis engulfing his state.
PDFNJ will continue to share with each of you the latest developments in the fight against opiate dependency and heroin addiction in this blog.
Several years ago New Jersey was one of the first states in the nation to require law enforcement and first responders to carry the lifesaving drug naloxone. Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone has been used over 11,000 times in NJ to save thousands of lives since 2014.
Over the last year, PDFNJ has been collaborating with Morris County Prevention is Key in promoting a series of trainings for an expanded group of individuals who have the opportunity to administer naloxone in emergencies. These groups include school nurses and families who are dealing with an opiate-dependent or heroin addicted member. Upcoming naloxone training can be found here.
This week the CDC has expanded the universe of individuals who should be carrying naloxone to include all patients who are prescribed opiates. It is important to note that naloxone is available at Walgreens and CVS pharmacies throughout NJ without prescription.
For close to a decade PDFNJ has been advocating for doctors to consider non-opiate therapies as a first-line treatment in addressing chronic and acute pain. PDFNJ’s position was based on the fact that so many families have shared similar stories about opiate prescribing leading to opiate dependency and heroin addiction.
I am so pleased to report that the American College of Physicians has officially changed their longstanding recommendation from treating chronic pain with opiates to now treating the same pain with alternative non-opiate therapies. These published guidelines mirror PDFNJ’s concerns and strategies.
It also should be noted that New Jersey’s newest trailblazing law signed by Governor Christie requires doctors and dentists to discuss non-opiate alternatives with the families of minor patients and make note of the conversation. PDFNJ provided NJ legislators with crucial information over the last decade to help craft this groundbreaking law (A3424/S2156).
New Jersey: First in the Nation to Require Physicians to Discuss Addictive Qualities of Opiates Prior to Prescribing
WE DID IT!
Thanks to the support of so many readers of this blog, NJ is the first state in the country to require prescribers, both physicians and dentists, to speak to the parents of their patients under the age of 18 before prescribing an opioid. New Jersey residents will now be informed of the addictive qualities of the medicines their children are prescribed thanks to a new law, the first of its kind in the nation, which passed on Monday in the Garden State. The new law (A3424/S2156) signed by Governor Chris Christie also requires prescribers to discuss non-opiate alternatives and make note of the conversation.
This past October over 2,000 volunteers canvassed neighborhoods and doctors’ offices throughout NJ to bring awareness to the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. There are too many NJ families that are suffering from the disease of addiction. It is so important to focus the public’s attention on identifying early signs and symptoms of addiction. Equally important is preventing unnecessary exposure to prescribed opiate medication that for so many young people becomes a first step to heroin abuse.
On Thursday, NJ.com reported on the Oswald Family’s obituary for their son, Andrew, who died from an overdose of heroin. Much like Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day, the Oswald Family has decided to share their personal tragedy in order to bring greater attention to the opioid epidemic which knows no political, demographic, geographic, or economic boundaries.
PDFNJ extends its condolences to the Oswald Family, and thanks them for their brave and crucial decision to share their personal journey so that other NJ families understand that this disease can strike anywhere and anyone.
The second annual Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day will be held on Friday, October 6, 2017. Details to be released in future blog posts.
Since 2008, the centerpiece of PDFNJ’s prevention efforts has focused on the link between prescription drugs and the heroin epidemic. Over the last nine years, PDFNJ developed innovative public awareness initiatives that were replicated throughout the country. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recognized PDFNJ twice in the last five years for these efforts. During these years, PDFNJ collaborated with thousands of law enforcement officers, medical professionals, prevention and treatment leaders, and most importantly – parents who have experienced this devastating disease firsthand. PDFNJ also interacted with legislators in New Jersey and across the country to share our unique knowledge and experience in developing solutions to end this epidemic.
We are so pleased that Governor Christie through Attorney General Porrino has proposed a comprehensive plan of action that places equal emphasis on treatment and prevention. PDFNJ looks forward to working with Governor Christie and his administration as well as the NJ legislature in saving lives.
Yesterday I had the great honor and privilege of receiving the NJTV Everyday Heroes Award on behalf of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. PDFNJ was recognized for its efforts in leading the statewide prevention initiative in addressing the opiate epidemic in New Jersey and throughout the country.
I received this award along with five other individuals who have, and continue to be, leaders in the fields of prevention, treatment and advocacy as New Jersey responds to the prescription drug and heroin epidemic that is impacting every community in our state. I’d like to congratulate my fellow honorees: Christopher Johnston, M.D. of Endeavor House; Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato; Parent Advocate Patty DiRenzo; Paul Ressler of TOPAC; and Stephen Stirling of New Jersey Advance Media.
Over the past year, NJ-TV has hosted a series of community forums to address New Jersey’s ongoing drug crisis and opiate epidemic.
I am pleased to share this week’s blog from Donna DeStefano, a colleague and dear friend who was one of the moms featured in PDFNJ's website TalkNowNJ.com.