Sussex County Residents Focus on Solutions to Opioid Epidemic at Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2017

Contact: Matt Birchenough, 201-916-1032,

ANDOVER — A standing-room-only crowd of Sussex County residents packed The Center for Prevention & Counseling on Friday to join the conversation on the statewide opioid epidemic gripping New Jersey at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall.

Audience members and a panel of experts from various fields related to the opioid epidemic exchanged dialogue on the causes of the issue, as well as steps that can be taken to address it in Sussex County and throughout the state.

“We are so are fortunate to have the cooperation of Sussex County law enforcement, legislative and judicial systems and our healthcare and addiction professionals all working together to bring about the best possible outcomes to address the addiction epidemic here,” said Annmarie Shafer, a certified prevention specialist at The Center for Prevention & Counseling who served on the panel. “We remain positive and believe we are helping more and more people through the concerted efforts of professionals and lay people alike who just really care to be part of recovery solutions for individuals and families.” 

The expert panel also included Dr. Anthony Brutico, Emergency Department Medical Director at Newton Medical Center; New Jersey State Senator Steven V. Oroho; Rachel Wallace, Director of Clinical Services at The Center for Prevention & Counseling; Aaron Kucharski, Advocacy Coordinator with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey (NCADD – NJ); and Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch.

“Listening to what you’re going through every day, that’s how we can be most effective in addressing this crisis,” Oroho said in addressing the 90-plus people in attendance.

In 2016, 36 people in Sussex County died from overdoses of heroin, prescription medications and other drugs. Law enforcement also administered naloxone in response to 52 overdoses. Those figures increased from 25 overdose deaths and 44 administrations of naloxone in 2015.

Koch, the county prosecutor, said breaking down the stigma associated with the disease of addiction will play an important role in making progress in addressing the epidemic.

“If we can change the attitude of the next generation, our children, and they continue that, within two generations we’ll eliminate most of this stigma,” he said.

Organized with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, the statewide town hall series focuses on the link between prescription drug dependency and heroin abuse. The event was co-sponsored by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, The Center for Prevention & Counseling, NCADD – NJ, Atlantic Health System and the Coalition for Healthy & Safe Communities.

“We are committed to collaborating with thought leaders like the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey to address our state’s opioid issue and to support the health and safety of New Jersey residents through public awareness, education and identification and dissemination of best practices to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Florence Kariuki, Clinical Design Liaison for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.


Best known for its statewide anti-drug advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $70 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 166 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.