• Opioid Prescriptions Declined in 2017

    Posted 5/16/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    As of earlier this month, 1,076 people in New Jersey had died from a drug overdose since the start of 2018. Statistics like these continue to paint a grim picture of the opioid epidemic in the state and throughout the nation.


    However, signs of progress in this fight are beginning to show.


    A recent study released by IQVIA showed that the volume of opioids prescribed declined significantly last year.


    In 2017, prescriptions decreased by 10.2 percent, accelerating the continued drop in prescriptions that has occurred since 2011, when the amount of opioids prescribed peaked at 240 billion milligrams of morphine equivalents (MME).


    High doses of opioids, defined as 90 MME or more per day, fell by 16.1 percent last year, according to the study.


    Perhaps most encouraging was that the number of patients starting opioid therapy who had no previous experience with opioids during the prior year fell by 7.8 percent. This statistic shows that many fewer people than in previous years were introduced or reintroduced to the risks of opioids.


    As we celebrate National Prevention Week, it is encouraging to see positive developments in this aspect of prevention.


    Meanwhile, the number of people beginning medically assisted treatment (MAT) nearly doubled from 44,000 per month at the end of 2015 to 82,000 per month at the conclusion of 2017.


    This combination of statistics indicates that progress is being made in the opioid epidemic as fewer Americans are being introduced to potentially dangerous opioid prescriptions, while more are receiving treatment for their addiction.

  • Substance Abuse in the Workplace on the Rise

    Posted 5/9/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Regardless of where in New Jersey we live or work, substance abuse impacts all of us. As I have mentioned many times before, no family or community is immune and a recent article in ROI-NJ shows that the places we work or volunteer are also not immune.


    Whether you are a manger, a business owner, a volunteer coordinator or local leader, the fact that a recent study found that new data shows significant jumps in positive testing for marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine in the past few years in New Jersey, is a concern for all of us.


    Next week PDFNJ will be holding our annual meeting on the impact of drug use in the workplace, and I invite all of you to attend and find out how, together, we can address this issue.

  • Don’t Miss a Second Chance to Hear the Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert

    Posted 5/2/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    If you were at Daytop New Jersey last Friday night, you were treated to one of the most exciting nights of the year for the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. Seventeen musical acts, comprising 31 New Jersey high school students, gave tremendous performances of original substance use prevention songs at the 14th Annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert.


    It truly was inspiring to see such a talented group of students spread messages on the value of living a healthy, drug-free life and to do it in front of an audience of hundreds of people.


    I’d like to thank all of this year’s participants in the Shout Down Drugs contest for their hard work and dedication, as well as the panel of judges who had the difficult task of picking winners from the 17 great performances. I’d also like to thank this year’s sponsors: our host Daytop New Jersey, the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, Investors Bank and 1450 WCTC.


    If you weren’t fortunate enough to be at the concert, you still have a chance to listen to it this Friday at 6 p.m. on 1450 WCTC or at

  • DEA to Hold National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday

    Posted 4/25/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    This Saturday will be an important day in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The Drug Enforcement Administration will be holding the 15th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day across the country to encourage Americans to properly dispose of unused and expired medications.


    Millions of Americans misuse prescription drugs, which they often can access from a friend or family’s medicine cabinet. It’s crucial that families get rid of these medications so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. In two Take Back events held during 2017, the DEA collected nearly 2 million pounds of unused medications.


    New Jersey residents can find a take back location by visiting If you miss your chance to dispose of medications on Saturday, you can still get rid of them at drop-off points near you through the American Medicine Chest Challenge.  


    PDFNJ, along with the DEA – New Jersey Division, the Office of the Attorney General and several local law enforcement agencies, helped spearhead the first statewide day of disposal in the nation more than 10 years ago, when 25,000 New Jersey residents took advantage of the event to dispose of unused medicines. The DEA replicated the New Jersey initiative on a national level and created the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

  • Don’t Miss DEA 360’s South Jersey Summit

    Posted 4/18/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    On Saturday, April 28, a special event will be taking place for Southern New Jersey residents. The South Jersey Youth and Family Drug Awareness Summit will be held at the Wildwood Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


    This event is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 360 Strategy, a three-pronged approach to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic through enforcement efforts, diversion control and community outreach. In 2016, more than 2,200 New Jerseyans died of drug overdose, and none of the state’s 21 counties was spared from this devastating epidemic. Southern New Jersey was designated as a subject for the program earlier this year, and the summit is an important aspect in the community outreach effort.


    Fourth through eighth grade students and parents from Mercer, Ocean, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May counties are invited to this conference.


    Students in grades 4 and 5 will learn about setting goals and youth leadership, while 6th through 8th graders will learn about addiction, dangers of vaping and making changes in their communities.  Parents will learn about social media hiding apps, helping their kids make healthier choices and how and where teens might hide drugs in their rooms in a Hidden in Plain Sight presentation. 


    Students also will get to enjoy the company of several special guests, including Marvel’s Captain America, as well as a performance by a 2017 winner of PDFNJ’s New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition. Families in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase a weekend pass to Morey’s Pier at half price.


    If you are a South Jersey resident, don’t miss this event. Not only will it provide vital information on how to protect your family from substance use, it also offers a great opportunity to spend quality time as a family.


    For more information and to register, visit

  • No One Is Immune to Opioid Addiction

    Posted 4/11/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    This has been written and said many times, but it’s worth repeating once again: opioid addiction can affect anyone.


    In a recent editorial, Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, detailed his struggle with prescription opioids in the weeks following knee replacement surgery.


    Reagan said opioids not only made him feel sick but also changed his personality, even though he took them as prescribed by his doctor: two every four hours after the surgery and then one every 12 hours.


    Reagan’s story shows just how it easily somehow can become dependent or addicted to opioids and that it can happen to anyone.


    It’s vital that people become aware of these risks. No one can predict when they might end up in the emergency room, but when they do they should be prepared to speak with their doctor about alternatives to opioids. Prevention is the most effective tool in stemming this crisis.

  • National Summit Aims for Solutions to Opioid Crisis

    Posted 4/4/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week, I am honored to attend the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta along with PDFNJ Director of Media, Marketing & Community Relations Angela Conover.


    Thousands of people from 48 states and Washington, D.C., as well as several other countries, are in attendance at this year’s conference, which provides organizations from around the country a forum to evaluate what prevention and treatment programs are working in the fight against the opioid crisis.


    We already have heard presentations from members of Congress and leaders of federal agencies who have outlined what must be done to address this epidemic that claimed more than 42,000 lives in the United States in 2016. Former President Bill Clinton will be speaking about the opioid crisis this evening.


    Unfortunately, the number of opioid deaths has continued to rise. In New Jersey, there were already 765 suspected drug overdose deaths in 2018 as of April 1, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. At that pace, the number of overdose deaths would exceed 3,000 for the year, far exceeding the totals for 2016 and 2017.


    A lot of work must be done to reduce these tragic statistics. It’s encouraging to see people and organizations from throughout the country united to work toward solutions to this problem, and I am hopeful that the momentum created here will result in renewed efforts to expand prevention and treatment opportunities throughout the country.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 Young Adults Ride with Impaired Drivers

    Posted 3/28/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    While the opioid crisis has been dominating headlines, another prominent cause of accidental deaths continues to ravage the nation: impaired driving.


    A recent report found that 33 percent of young adults have been in a vehicle with a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol over the past year. That means one in three of those young adults have needlessly put their lives at risk during that time.


    In 2016, alcohol-impaired driving alone caused more than 10,000 deaths in the United States, and people driving while under the influence of drugs is growing problem. In 2015, drivers tested positive for a drug other than alcohol in 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes.


    The study found that the risk of riding with an impaired driver was higher when young adults were with their peers rather than an older adult. Other research has shown that young adults who ride with impaired drivers are more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol themselves.


    This data suggests that peer influence plays a major role in young adults making dangerous decisions. Therefore, it’s important for parents to educate their children not only on the direct health risks associated with drugs and alcohol but also the consequences of driving while impaired.


    First, make sure to discuss with your children the dangers of drugs and alcohol and take other measures to prevent them from engaging in substance use. It’s also vital to teach them what to do if they are with friends who are using drugs and alcohol and prepare them to take steps to prevent anyone from driving while impaired.


    With April 1 only days away, Alcohol Awareness Month is a good opportunity to share this information with your friends and family. The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey can help educate your community on drugs and alcohol and has a limited number of dates available in April for to host 15 Minute Child Breaks to discuss how to talk with your children about substance use.


    Finally, I would like to wish you all a healthy and safe holiday weekend.

  • President Trump Outlines Plan for Ending Opioid Crisis

    Posted 3/21/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week, President Trump spoke in New Hampshire to address the opioid crisis, which claimed more than 42,000 lives in 2016.


    The president’s proposal for harsher punishments for drug dealers received a majority of media attention in recent days, but it is important to realize that law enforcement is just one part of addressing this crisis. Appropriate law enforcement measures must be coupled with effective prevention messages and access to treatment in order to stem this epidemic.


    As the president mentioned, media campaigns can be an effective tool in educating the public about substance use and addiction. It is vital that these messages use evidence-based approaches that urge the public to take actions, such as securing medicine cabinets and disposing of unused medications; asking prescribers about the risks of prescription opioids; or speaking with children about the dangers of substance use.


    The president’s plan also includes increased access to medication-assisted treatment, which has been an important option for many people suffering from addiction. Making this form of treatment more available is vital to battling the opioid crisis.


    Meanwhile, Congress has begun to examine ways to end the epidemic and has set aside $6 billion in funding to address the issue.


    I am hopeful that the renewed attention to this issue from the federal government will lead to breakthroughs in prevention, treatment and recovery. We all need to keep members of Congress informed on the importance of a balanced approach, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement if we are truly going to end the opioid epidemic.

  • Study: Opioids No More Effective than Common Painkillers at Treating Pain

    Posted 3/14/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Overprescribing and misuse of prescription opioids have helped to fuel the current epidemic in New Jersey and around the country, which claimed more than 1,900 lives in New Jersey and more than 50,000 nationwide in 2016.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has supported efforts to curb overprescribing, including new legislation passed in New Jersey last year that requires prescribers to discuss the addictive nature of opioids as well as possible non-opioid alternatives to address acute and chronic pain.


    Using alternatives to opioids can eliminate or lessen the potential for addiction, and in many cases can result in more effective treatment.  


    A government study released last week supported that case, finding that opioids were no more effective than common painkillers, like acetaminophen, in treating patients with chronic back pain and arthritis.


    The year-long study found that opioids did not prove more effective in improving pain related to daily functions and were less effective at alleviating pain intensity. Patients on opioids also reported more side effects.


    This study provides further proof that opioids are an effective option in some cases. However, they may not be the only answer in addressing both acute and chronic pain in patients.


    The opioid crisis is not slowing down, as indicated in a CDC report last week stating that emergency room visits for opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from 2016 to 2017. It is imperative that New Jersey residents become educated on the risks associated with prescription opioids and realize that there may be safer options available to help treat pain.

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