• Fifth Annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs NJ Family Fishing Tournament!

    Posted 7/17/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week we will be commencing our Fifth Annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs NJ Family Fishing Tournament!

    Every year during the summer months, we hold a fishing tournament that encourages New Jersey families to head outdoors and bond together over a fun filled day of fishing. It is important for parents and guardians to spend time quality time with their children, especially during the summertime when kids have more time on their hands and could potentially get into trouble.

    Research shows us that parents who often communicate with their children significantly decrease their chances of abusing substances. Our annual fishing tournament is the perfect opportunity for families to interact with their kids and open up those lines of communication in an effort to help keep them drug-free.

    The competition will take from July 19-28 and requires no entrance fee. Eligible candidates must be 18 years old or younger, New Jersey residents, and be accompanied by a parent or guardian while fishing.

    Participants can take a photo of their family enjoying a fishing trip and post it on our Facebook (Drug-FreeNJ), Instagram (@DrugFreeNJ), or Twitter (@DrugFreeNJ) pages with the hashtag #DrugFreeNJ. The picture must include the youth participant and a parent or guardian. Photo opportunities are also available upon request.


    All entries must be submitted no later than July 28. A total of $500 will be awarded to five randomly selected submissions on August 5.


    Happy fishing!

  • Benzos Becoming a Drug of Choice for Teens

    Posted 7/10/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    In an attempt to prevent adolescent substance abuse, it is crucial to stay up to date with the current drug trends among our youth. Research shows that benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, have become a popular drug of choice among teens and those in their twenties, and have contributed to a massive increase in overdose deaths.

    Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, are often prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, but teens and young adults have been using them recreationally.

    I recently met with reporter David Matthau to discuss how this trend is affecting today’s youth and contributing to a significant increase in the number of fatal overdoses.

  • Happy 4th of July!

    Posted 7/3/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Each year on July 4th, we come together as a nation to celebrate our country’s hard-fought freedom. It is a day to reflect on how far we have come as a country and to renew our appreciation for the rights and opportunities each of us are given here. Most importantly, we gather together in remembrance of all those who sacrificed their lives—and still do each day—so that the American people could obtain and keep their freedom.


    On behalf of myself, all staff members, and the Board of Trustees, we would like to give a special thanks to all of America’s veterans for their strength and bravery, and we wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!

  • New Jersey Health Ranks Low on Suicide, Alcohol, and Smoking Death Rates - Not Opioids

    Posted 6/26/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    I recently read a few articles that discussed a report from the Commonwealth fund. The report measured the performance of state health systems looking at 47 different categories including; access and affordability, prevention and treatment, avoidable use and cost, and healthy lives. The results indicate that death rates from suicide, alcohol, and opioids are at an all-time high in the United States. Opioid overdoses and suicides, in particular, were the two driving factors for the decline in the average life expectancy rate.

    Some states proved to be more susceptible to certain issues. New Jersey, for example, scored highly in the healthy lives category; it ranked third lowest in suicide deaths, fourth lowest in alcohol deaths, and fifth lowest in adult-smoking deaths. Opioid death rates are a much more concerning statistic. The state ranked 39th in drug poisoning deaths.

    A countless number of people have lost their lives from opioid overdoses since the start of the epidemic, but the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and all its collaborators remain determined to save lives.

    Don’t forget that you also play a part in the solution. If you personally know someone with a substance use disorder, please contact ReachNJ: (609) 292-6000

  • TED Talk on Opioid Withdrawal and New Jersey Legislation

    Posted 6/19/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    I recently watched a TED talk about a man named Travis Rider’s experience of opioid withdrawal. For those of you who do not know, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) called TED talks. They feature expert speakers who cover various topics, including education, business, science, and technology.

    In this particular TED talk, a man named Travis Rider opened up about his addiction and the agony of withdrawal. In his closing remarks he stated, 


    “Properly managing prescribed opioids will not by itself solve the crisis—America’s epidemic is far bigger than that—but when a medication is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year, reckless management of that medication is indefensible. Helping opioid therapy patients to get off of their medication that they were prescribed may not be a complete solution for our epidemic, but it will clearly constitute progress.”


    Travis’ story highlights just how crucial it is for doctors to further educate themselves on safe methods for prescribing opioids. It stresses the importance for prescribers to disclose the addiction potential of opioids and to provide their patients with non-opioid alternatives, if and when they are available.

  • Pick Up Free Naloxone on June 18th

    Posted 6/12/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    More than 3,000 people in New Jersey died of a drug overdose in 2018. That number would have been much higher if law enforcement and emergency medical services did not administer naloxone more than 16,000 times throughout the state last year.


    Naloxone can reverse opioid overdoses by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. It has been an invaluable tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic.


    Governor Phil Murphy announced last week that on June 18, New Jersey residents will be able to walk in to participating pharmacies throughout the state and obtain naloxone for free and without a prescription or an appointment. Click HERE for a list of participating pharmacies.

  • Opioid Warning Label Bill Passed by New Jersey General Assembly

    Posted 6/5/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Last month, the New Jersey General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would require all prescription opioid medications to have a warning sticker advising patients of the risks of addiction and overdose. The bill had previously passed the State Senate, also unanimously, back in March.


    If the bill is signed by Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey would be the first state to adopt a permanent law requiring such warning labels.


    This legislation would be another positive step in helping to educate New Jersey residents about the potential for dependency and addiction to opioids.


    While prescribers are required to have a conversation with their patients about these risks before prescribing an opioid – thanks to legislation enacted in 2017 -- adding another layer of information will help patients make safer and healthier decisions.

  • New Jersey Law Enforcement Community Unites to Discuss Opioid Epidemic

    Posted 5/31/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    On Thursday in Atlantic City, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey held the New Jersey Law Enforcement Training: On the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic conference, the first ever statewide law enforcement event to unite federal, state, county and local law enforcement officials to discuss the opioid epidemic ravaging the state.

    The conference was a resounding success, as more than 200 attendees, including representatives from more than 60 state, county and local law enforcement agencies, received important updates on the crisis and their role in addressing it.

    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who delivered the keynote address, announced for the first time publicly that his office has filed a lawsuit against eight members of the Sackler family, founders of oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. He also outlined the progress being made in the fight against the opioid epidemic. 

  • Mother’s Story Helps to Break Down Stigma of Addiction

    Posted 5/22/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Tracy Reinholt, who lost her son, Hunter, to a drug overdose, recently told her story to The Jersey Journal. Hunter died on Easter morning after experimenting with gabapentin pills he took from his grandfather’s medicine cabinet.


    My heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Reinholt family.


    Reinholt, who had previously shared Hunter’s story in his obituary, urged readers to be aware of the dangers of prescription medications and to protect their children from these risks. Many parents that have lost their children to the opioid epidemic have become strong advocates to inform and educate families of the extreme dangers opioids can pose to children and adults alike.


    Reinholt and other parents are doing important work by sharing their experiences. These stories help to break down the stigma of addiction by encouraging others to seek help and by reinforcing that addiction is a medical disease that can affect anyone.

  • NJBIZ Health Care Power 50 Announced

    Posted 5/15/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week, I had the honor of being included in the 2019 NJBIZ Health Care Power 50, which highlights the top leaders in the health care field in the state of New Jersey.


    While I am appreciative of this personal recognition, I believe this honor says more about the crucial role substance use prevention plays in health care. It is also a sign of the continued effort to break down the stigma of addiction by recognizing drug addiction as a public health issue.


    As the opioid crisis continues to take its toll on our state, it has become increasingly necessary for communities and families to understand the dangers of both prescription and illicit drugs and how to protect loved ones from going down the path to addiction.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has played an important role in educating the public through its many school-based programs, the Do No Harm prescriber education series, the 15 Minute Child Break parent education program, the Drug Don’t Work in NJ workplace program and the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series. This is also a tribute to our many prevention collaborators throughout the state, which have helped to spread important prevention messages in their communities.


    Note: The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will continue its efforts to address the opioid crisis by holding the New Jersey Law Enforcement Training: On the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic on Thursday, May 30 at the Tropicana Atlantic City. I invite all New Jersey law enforcement professionals to attend this informative event. Limited seating is still available.

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