• New Law Informs Athletes’ Parents on Dangers of Opioids

    Posted 7/27/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    The state of New Jersey recently passed a new law that requires school districts and private schools offering interscholastic sports or cheerleading competitions to provide information on the dangers of opioid prescription drug use to parents and guardians every year.


    The legislation is an important step in helping parents make the best decisions for their children when they potentially could be prescribed an opioid. It is crucial that they understand that opioid painkillers can be highly addictive and that there are other alternatives to managing pain caused by sports injuries.


    Student athletes are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to opioid misuse. Studies show that male athletes are twice as likely as the general population to be prescribed prescription painkillers and four times more likely to abuse them.


    There is also a link between prescribed painkillers and heroin abuse, as nearly half of young people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before using heroin. Research by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has found that nearly a third of parents with middle school children are unaware of that link.


    The Partnership has worked and will continue to work with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and other partners, including the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, to collaborate on ways to better inform parents of the dangers prescription opioids can present to their student athletes.


    The Partnership also has begun spreading the word about the dangers of opioid abuse through the second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, which will be held Oct. 6. The first training session for the event was held via webinar on Wednesday.


    The statewide single-day initiative will mobilize families, members of the prevention and treatment communities, community leaders and concerned citizens to raise awareness of the potential for dependency on prescribed pain medicine and its link to heroin abuse rates in our state. The effort will have a dual focus: educating physicians and raising awareness among New Jersey citizens and families.


    Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day is a project of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, with thousands of volunteers across the state.

  • Reel in Some Summer Fun in PDFNJ’s Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs Fishing Tournament

    Posted 7/20/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    It’s the middle of July, and children’s initial excitement at the dawn of summer possibly has dissipated as we approach the dog days of the season.


    With more free time on their hands, children are more vulnerable and sometimes make poor decisions, which increases the importance of enjoying fun summertime activities as a family.


    Kids who communicate regularly with their parents about their daily activities are 67 percent less likely to be involved in substance abuse than children who have little or no communication, according to research conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.


    PDFNJ’s Third Annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs Online NJ Family Fishing Tournament is a perfect activity to keep children engaged while also spending valuable time together as a family.


    To participate in the contest being held Aug. 4-13, entrants must be 18 years old or younger, New Jersey residents and be accompanied by a parent or guardian while fishing. Participants then have to snap a photo of their family enjoying a fishing trip and post it with the hashtag #drugfreenj. The photo must include the youth participant and a parent or guardian.


    Pictures can be posted by liking PDFNJ’s Facebook page at PartnershipForADrugFreeNewJersey or by following PDFNJ on Twitter (@drugfreenj) and Instagram (@drugfreenj).


    All entries must be submitted no later than Aug. 13. Winners will be selected at random on Aug. 17 and will be eligible to win up to $600 in cash prizes.


    Take advantage of the warm weather and head to the nearest lake, river or ocean to share a memorable family moment. 

  • CDC Report Finds Mixed Results for Opioid Prescribing in New Jersey Counties

    Posted 7/12/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    Since the opioid crisis began to grip New Jersey and our nation, one of the crucial goals in stemming the tide of addiction was addressing the overprescribing of pain medication. The good news is that the number of opioid prescriptions decreased nationwide from 2010 to 2015. The bad news is that doctors gave out longer prescriptions and the average strength of prescriptions was still high, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last week.


    The report also revealed that the number of prescriptions in parts of New Jersey remained high. An report detailed the disparity in prescriptions written across the state’s 21 counties.


    While the rate of prescriptions per person dropped in 10 counties from 2010 to 2015, it increased in nine counties and did not change in two others, the report said. The totals are measured in “morphine milligram equivalents,” or MME, “which measures the total dosage of opioids while correcting for differing strengths among different drugs.”

  • Operation Prevention Provides Valuable Drug-Free Education Resources

    Posted 7/6/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    We are pleased to share this week’s blog with Joanna Mlicka-Anderko, Demand Reduction Coordinator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Jersey Division and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Discovery Education have joined forces to combat the growing epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use nationwide. Operation Prevention’s mission is to educate students about the true impacts of opioids and kick-start lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom. The initiative offers the following expanded collection of no-cost resources for elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and parents:

    • Digital Classroom Lessons

    Classroom-ready interactive lessons aligned to national health and science standards

    • Parent Toolkit

    Family discussion guide, which provides information on the warning signs of opioid misuse and a guide to prevention and intervention

    • Video Challenge

    Encourages students to send a message to their peers about the dangers of prescription opioid misuse by creating a 30-to-60-second original Public Service Announcement for a chance to win a scholarship

    • On Demand Virtual Field Trip

    Leading experts, including DEA agents and pharmacologists, provide facts on drugs and addiction

    All materials are online at in English and Spanish and are updated every year for content. For more information, please contact Demand Reduction Specialist Joanna Anderko at

  • New Jersey Joins Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers

    Posted 6/29/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    States across the country have begun examining the degree of blame that should be placed on drug manufacturers for the opioid epidemic gripping the nation.


    On the heels of a lawsuit brought by Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine against five pharmaceutical companies, a group of attorneys general from several states in mid-June launched an inquiry into the marketing of pain medications and whether it fueled the opioid crisis, which has been at epidemic levels for the past five years.


    In 2015, opioids took the lives of more than 33,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll in New Jersey for 2015 was 1,600, or four times the number of people murdered in the state that year.


    New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino recently said that he will take part in the inquiry, joining his colleagues from states including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has taken the lead role in the investigation. 


    PDFNJ continues to play a crucial role in fighting the opioid crisis, most notably by launching its Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series this spring. We also have enlisted Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opiate Prescribing (PROP), to speak out on the problem. Dr. Kolodny recently appeared in an interview segment on the PBS program “Democracy Now!” and was critical of both the current and previous political administrations for doing little to combat the crisis.

  • Welcome Summer!

    Posted 6/22/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    Summer has arrived! Summer is my favorite season, as the warm weather brings with it the opportunity to relax, take time for activities and enjoy added time with family and friends. PDFNJ research shows that kids who communicate regularly with their parents about their daily activities are 67% less likely to be involved in substance abuse. Throughout the summer, PDFNJ continues to offer a variety of resources for families to utilize.


    Parents can find out additional information on current trends at TalkNowNJ.Com, or take an interactive quiz to test their knowledge on the impact of underage drinking and the opioid abuse crisis at ParentCheckNJ.Com. We will also host a series of webinars on all of these topics:


    Date                                    Time

    • Tuesday, 6/27/17             11:30 AM
    • Tuesday, 6/27/17             1:00 PM
    • Wednesday, 6/28/17       11:30 AM
    • Wednesday, 6/28/17       1:00 PM 

    All webinars are open to the public to participate in by registering here.


    Wishing you a wonderful summer season! 

  • Governor Christie Speaks at PDFNJ's Do No Harm Symposium

    Posted 6/14/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, Monday, held the 20th Do No Harm Safer Prescribing Symposium, a program of PDFNJ, DEA-NJ, and HIDTA. Prosecutor Fredric Knapp and the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, along with Morris County Sheriff James Gannon coordinated this program with PDFNJ to educate prescribers in the county, both at Saint Clare’s Health System and Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center.


    Governor Chris Christie, who has made the opioid epidemic a priority for his administration, provided a keynote address to attendees about the importance of safer prescribing, prevention, and treatment, as well as strategies to address this epidemic and support those in recovery. Working together is the only way we are going to make inroads in reducing the numbers afflicted by this epidemic.


    I thank all of those who attended, our partners on this program, and Governor Christie for his leadership on this issue. 


    Video of Governor Christie's speech and photos available by clicking read more.

  • To Defeat Opioid Addiction, N.J. Doctors Must Stop Over-Prescribing

    Posted 6/7/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    Elaine Pozycki, PDFNJ Chair, is dedicated to raising awareness on the links between prescribed opioids and heroin abuse rates. Her letter to the editor in today's Star Ledger focuses on the newest legislation passed to bring safer prescribing to New Jersey and the nation. PDFNJ will host a safer prescribing Do No Harm symposium on Monday, June 12th, and I invite anyone who is interested in learning  more on this topic to register to attend here.

  • Horizon is Opening the Conversation and Finding Solutions to the Opioid Crisis

    Posted 5/30/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    Over the past month, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey have teamed up to start the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall series that will make its way throughout the state over the next year and a half. It’s not too late to join the conversation on opioid abuse tomorrow in Bergen County. Click here to register.


    We are pleased to share this week’s blog with Jonathan Pearson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Executive Director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, who has provided an overview of the first three town halls in the series.

  • Marijuana Research Points to Concerns on Adolescent Brain Development

    Posted 5/17/2017 by Angelo M. Valente

    Marijuana legalization, now found in seven states and in Washington, D.C., has added sizably to the challenge of drug prevention. According to the most recent Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual study of youth drug use and other at-risk behaviors, fewer than 40% of teens consider marijuana use to be risky.


    In the online publication “Science News for Students,” Christopher Hammond, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., noted how Colorado’s legalization and its accompanying advertising campaign have enticed more youth there to try marijuana and that some of them are now regular users. He said, “When you start to use it regularly as a teenager, it has harmful consequences.” Several studies have shown brain changes in regular teen users of pot, including reduced brain volume in areas of the brain that  process information.


    Yet another authority on the subject is Dr. Ellen Rome, head of the Center for Adolescent Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. She cited the long-lasting ill-effects of marijuana use on the structure and function of still developing brains: “Marijuana use affects the healthy formation of the prefrontal cortex and can interfere with the brain’s ability to transfer information from short term to long term memory.”


    PDFNJ encourages New Jersey legislators to familiarize themselves with the considerable body of research on how marijuana impacts the developing brain of adolescents, and how legalization of marijuana impacts the attitudes and behaviors of adolescents.

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