• Advocate & Inspire Others

    Posted 1/9/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week I turn over the blog to Donna DeStefano, a New Jersey parent who has been a tremendous advocate for prevention, treatment and recovery in response to her daughter’s journey to recovery. For the past few years, Donna has been leading an effort to earn legislative approval for “Support Recovery” license plates that New Jersey residents can purchase with the proceeds going to recovery resources. Donna has worked tirelessly to move this effort forward and has been a great partner of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.


    By Donna DeStefano


    The other day I was preparing for a presentation that I really was looking forward to at the Mercer Council Prevention Coalition meeting.


    As a former Director for the Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County through Prevention First, I know how hard the staff works to engage their members, who are all volunteers. They come from all different sectors of the community, including faith-based, law enforcement, education, parents, providers of mental health, treatment and prevention and anyone else who has a passion or interest in drug prevention.


    As I gathered my materials and talking points, I knew that I would talk about my family’s story and how we coped with the struggles of my daughter’s heroin addiction and recovery, but I also wanted to talk about the importance of advocacy.


    We all know that as a group we can accomplish a lot. Just like they say, the word team stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More.” What we don’t sometimes realize is that even one person can make a difference. It can come from a simple idea, but the problem with most ideas is that they require action. You might not know exactly where to start or how to implement the idea, so it sometimes just remains an idea. That is so sad!

  • Vaping an Epidemic Among Youth

    Posted 1/2/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    A recent report shows that vaping by high school students is on the rise, which has led United States Surgeon General Jerome V. Adams to declare vaping among youth an epidemic.


    Results from the 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey found that 37.3 percent of 12th grade students reported taking part in “any vaping” during the previous 12 months, an increase from 27.8 percent in 2017.


    High school seniors’ reported use of vaping nicotine during the 30-day period prior to the survey also rose significantly, nearly doubling from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018. Reports of vaping marijuana by high school seniors during the previous year increased to 13.1 percent from 9.5 percent in 2017.


    The problem also exists among younger children. More than 10% of eighth graders said they vaped nicotine in the past year.


    As the surgeon general emphasized, it is vital that parents and teachers are aware of this issue and be aware of the harm that vaping poses, especially to youth.


    Because of the deceptive nature of vaping devices, which are small and can look like everyday items such as pens or USB flash drives, it is crucial that parents and teachers are aware of what vaping devices look like and are educated on the signs of vaping.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey offers the 15 Minute Child Break, a free education program for parents and other adults that focuses on the trends and effects of substance use, as well as effective ways to discuss those issues with children.


    The Partnership has added information on vaping to the multimedia presentation, which usually lasts about one hour. You can also find out more about vaping on PDFNJ’s homepage or by clicking here.

  • Happy Holidays!

    Posted 12/26/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    On behalf of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey team, I wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season.

  • Mercer Council, The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and PDFNJ Produce Important Parent PSA on Teen Brain Development

    Posted 12/18/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    recent study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Fairleigh Dickinson University found that 7 in 10 New Jersey parents of children 18 years or younger believe there is a link between prescription opioids and heroin. That figure is an encouraging sign that more parents understand the dangers of prescription opioids and are informed and prepared to make the best decisions for the health and safety of their children. However, it is vital that we continue to share this message, especially for the 30 percent of parents who are still unaware of the risks. The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey helped support the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County to produce a short public service announcement on the issue, and I’ve invited Barbara Sprechman of the Mercer Council to tell you more about it in this week’s blog.

  • Study Shows Link Between Dentist-Prescribed Opioids and Opioid Abuse

    Posted 12/12/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    A new study released last week found that opioids prescribed by dentists have led to a significant increase in the number of young people who have misused opioids.


    The study, conducted by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California, found that nearly 6 percent of a sample size of almost 15,000 people ages 16 to 25, who received initial opioid prescriptions in 2015, had been diagnosed with opioid abuse within a year. Just 0.4 percent of people from a similar group who had not received opioids were diagnosed with opioid abuse during the same timeframe.


    These numbers are troubling and confirm the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s concern about the overprescribing of opioids. Millions of wisdom tooth extractions are performed every year, meaning that a large number of teens and young adults could be exposed to opioids for the first time.


    Compounding the tragedy behind these figures is that such cases are almost entirely preventable. A study has found that non-opioid pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be more effective in treating dental pain.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has worked to inform dentists on safer prescribing practices through the Do No Harm Symposium Series, which has been held throughout the state with the Drug Enforcement Administration ­– New Jersey Division and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program and the New Jersey Dental Association since 2013.


    While progress has been made in limiting prescription opioids, this study shows why steps to reduce initiation of opioid use are so necessary. The Partnership is determined to continue working with doctors and dentists to help keep them informed on prescribing guidelines and protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s residents.

  • Daytop New Jersey Expands and Enhances Services in Midst of Opioid Crisis

    Posted 12/5/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Daytop New Jersey has proven to be a great partner of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and a pillar of the New Jersey treatment community. This past April, Daytop hosted the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert at its residential facility in Mendham. The event was a huge success as high school musicians from throughout the state performed their original and inspiring substance use prevention songs in front of a capacity crowd. This week, I welcome Jim Curtin, president and CEO of Daytop New Jersey, to inform you about some of the services being provided by Daytop throughout the state.


    By Jim Curtin, President and CEO, Daytop New Jersey

    Many people know Daytop New Jersey as a provider of residential services for adolescents struggling with substance use disorders. What most people do not know is that in the past few years Daytop has broadened its mission to serve adults with substance use and mental health challenges and is part of its largest growing programs in response to the growing opioid epidemic in the state of New Jersey.  


    The decision to change the mission and begin working with adults and their families did not come lightly, yet even as of ten years ago, it was impossible to ignore the trends that an increasing number of adults with opioid use disorders were in need of treatment. Therefore, the executive leadership and the board got together and made the decision to begin offering outpatient and intensive outpatient services at the Morris County outpatient program in Morris Plains. The program grew so quickly that the next step was to offer similar services at three additional outpatient treatment centers. 

  • More New Jersey Parents Becoming Aware of Prescription Opioid Risks

    Posted 11/28/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    As we approach the final month of 2018, I’d like to bring you some encouraging news.


    A recent study created by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that more New Jersey parents are informed on the potential dangers of prescription opioids and their link to heroin use.


    A poll conducted in September found that 69 present of parents of children 18 or younger believe there is a link between prescription painkillers given for sports injuries or wisdom teeth removal and the heroin epidemic currently impacting New Jersey.


    A 2016 study conducted by the Partnership had found that 66 percent of parents of middle school students believed there was a connection between prescription opioids and heroin.


    Parents play the most important role in substance use prevention for their children, making it crucial that they are armed with the information necessary to make the best decisions for their children.


    While there is still more work to do in educating the public on the risks of prescription opioids, this study shows that awareness efforts are helping to make a positive impact in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted 11/21/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    With Thanksgiving just a day away, I would like to give thanks for all the invaluable groups and individuals throughout the state and the nation who have helped support the mission of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.


    I am grateful for the work being done by our partners in the prevention, treatment and recovery fields, as well as those in government, education, law enforcement and the medical community who are leading the fight against the opioid crisis.


    I am also thankful for the support from the media in helping share our campaigns throughout New Jersey and bring awareness to the state’s residents about the opioid epidemic.


    Lastly, I’m thankful for all the residents in New Jersey who have taken action to prevent their family, friends and neighbors from going down the path to addiction or who have assisted in finding help for people affected by this epidemic. Finding a solution to the opioid crisis will require determination and a coordinated effort in every community in the state, and I am thankful for all of you who have joined the conversation and engaged in the efforts to stem this epidemic.


    On behalf of the entire staff at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, I would like to wish you all a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

  • Veterans Affairs a Leader in Addressing Opioid Epidemic

    Posted 11/14/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    In last week’s blog, I focused on a questionable decision by the Food and Drug Administration to approve a new and extremely powerful opioid.


    This week, I’d like to turn my attention to a federal agency that has taken many positive steps to fight the opioid epidemic.


    In 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs released new guidelines on opioid prescribing, which included a recommendation for prescribers to seek alternatives to opioid therapy for chronic pain and, in cases when opioids are deemed necessary, to prescribe them for a short duration at the lowest dose possible and to have discussions of risks and benefits of opioids and alternative therapies with patients.


    These guidelines are similar to the requirements in New Jersey’s Patient Notification Act, a law passed last year that has been replicated in six other states throughout the country. The VA is helping to put these important prescribing principles in place to help better care for men and women who served this nation proudly.


    On that note, I would like to thank all veterans for their service and wish them a belated happy Veterans Day.

  • FDA Approves Powerful New Opioid

    Posted 11/7/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved Dsuvia, a powerful new opioid used to treat acute pain.


    With the opioid crisis continuing to kill tens of thousands of Americans, this development is extremely concerning. This new drug is 1,000 times more powerful than morphine.


    I hope that the FDA reconsiders this decision to now make available a much more powerful opioid that could potentially wind up in the wrong hands.


    There are many facets to prescription drug misuse prevention, but one of the most important actions that every family can take is properly disposing of prescription medications to prevent them from ending up in the wrong hands.


    This Saturday, communities throughout the country will participate in the 10th Annual American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, an event that helps to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and encourages safe disposal of prescription drugs.


    Prescription drug drop boxes are available 24 hours, seven days a week in many communities and can be located using the AMCC RX Drop mobile app or at


    If you cannot participate in the National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, you can still take the American Medicine Chest Five-Step Challenge throughout the year:

    1. Take inventory of the medicines in your home
    2. Dispose of any unused, unwanted and expired medicines
    3. Secure the medicines you keep
    4. Take your prescription as directed
    5. Speak to children about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs 

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