Guest Blog: Rutgers Effort to Address the Opioid Crisis in NJ

This week’s guest blogger, Muzdalifa Syed of Rutgers University, is sharing some information with us about the Rutgers Interdisciplinary Opioid Trainers (RIOT) Program, which aims to reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder and educate people about medication-assisted treatment in the fight against the opioid crisis.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) recently held a webinar presentation in collaboration with Rutgers on the RIOT Program as part of the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series. To view that presentation, please click here.

All the best, 
Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ



By Muzdalifa Syed

Medication assisted treatment is an established, evidence-based treatment for Opioid Use Disorder yet vastly underutilized due to many misconceptions, fears, and stigmas surrounding addiction. We created the Rutgers Interdisciplinary Opioid Trainers (RIOT) Program to address this issue by educating people and reducing stigma about the opioid crisis, Opioid Use Disorder, and Medication Assisted Treatment. Our program gives free 1-hour presentations to diverse audiences across New Jersey including universities, community organizations, and health centers. Initiatives like RIOT are crucial in improving access to evidence-based care and empowering patients, families, and communities with scientifically-informed knowledge.

Our 100 graduate volunteers come from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, School of Public Health, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, School of Social Work, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, School of Health Professions, and Graduate School in Biomedical Science. They all underwent 18 hours of training by Dr. Jill Williams, Director of Addiction Psychiatry, and are passionate about the topic. Our program is funded by the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

If you’re interested in scheduling a virtual hour-long presentation by two of our Graduate Students, please complete the Google Form on our website,, or email We are committed to working with the schedules of our community partners and are happy to accommodate the time and date that works best for your organization.

Notice: This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). This information should not be construed as legal advice from the author or PDFNJ. Please consult your own attorney before making any legal decisions

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