Webinar to Examine Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Use



Contact: Natalie Golub, 973-382-4560, 


PDFNJ and New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to Host Eighth Webinar of 2021


MILLBURN — An upcoming presentation will examine New Jersey’s efforts during the past year to provide support to victims of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The webinar is part of the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series, presented by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES), which is responsible for overseeing addiction-fighting efforts across the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

The webinar, “Childhood Trauma Part II: Substance Use and Adverse Childhood Experiences,” will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 28. It will feature Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner; David B. Levine, MD, FAAP, of Atlantic Medical Group Pediatrics; Dave Ellis, Executive Director of the Office of Resilience for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families; and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Christopher A. Jakim of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – New Jersey Division and Commander of the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

“Providing a safe and healthy environment for children to learn and grow is vital to substance use prevention efforts,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “Unfortunately, Adverse Childhood Experiences do occur, which makes additional support and care crucial for New Jersey’s children, especially as we navigate the opioid and addiction epidemic amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The webinar will examine the progress made since October 2020, when PDFNJ and NJ CARES collaborated to host their first webinar on ACEs, “Childhood Trauma: What Are We Seeing? What Can We Do to Prevent Substance Use & Abuse?” That presentation focused on the Handle With Care program, which was pioneered by the DEA and expanded statewide in accordance with Attorney General Directive 2020-09.

The Handle With Care program, which requires law enforcement to provide schools with notice of children experiencing ACEs, is designed to promote partnerships between law enforcement and schools to help provide a safe and supportive academic environment for children exposed to traumatic events. ACEs, if unaddressed, can lead to problems such as drug use and depression, and they can have a lasting impact on a child’s health, well-being and academic success.

The webinar will be the eighth event of 2021 Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series and the continued collaboration between PDFNJ and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. The organizations worked together on six webinars as part of the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Webinar Series, focusing of the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020.

Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day has been held in New Jersey on October 6 each year since 2016. The statewide single-day initiative is organized by PDFNJ and The Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris, in cooperation with the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. The goal of the day is to mobilize the prevention and treatment communities, community leaders and concerned citizens to raise awareness of the potential for dependency on prescribed pain medicine, as well as their link to heroin and fentanyl use in the state.

The initiative expanded to include a learning series in 2020, as a way to offer more educational and advocacy opportunities to New Jersey residents in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, more than 3,000 people in New Jersey died from suspected drug overdoses, a vast majority of which involved some form of opioid including prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

To learn more about the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day and to register for the webinar, please visit knockoutday.drugfreenj.org.


Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey: Best known for its statewide substance use prevention 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 $200 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 201 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.