Progress in the Battle Against Opioid Epidemic: NJ Overdoses Decrease


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2023
Contact: Lisa Batitto,

Progress in the Battle Against Opioid Epidemic:
New Jersey Records Decrease in Overdoses

Millburn, NJ - Recently released provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a decline in opioid overdoses in New Jersey. The state continues its comprehensive efforts to address the opioid crisis through various initiatives and partnerships.

"Although even one life lost is too many, we are very encouraged to see that New Jersey is on track to be among the few states witnessing a decline in opioid-related overdoses over the past year," Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said.

In a coordinated response to the opioid crisis, New Jersey's government and advocacy community have collaborated on several key initiatives, including the designation of October 6 as Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day. This day serves as an opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about the opioid epidemic, with coordination by PDFNJ.

Additionally, the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series has been initiated, commencing with monthly webinars covering various topics related to the opioid crisis. This program is a joint endeavor of PDFNJ, NJ CARES, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, and The Opioid Education Foundation of America.

Dr. Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, will be the keynote speaker for the October 6 webinar. He will address the overdose data, trends, and emerging threats that impact New Jersey.

"For the last decade, PDFNJ has been dedicated to developing strategies to combat the opioid epidemic in New Jersey. These efforts include providing safe prescribing education for healthcare professionals, educational programs for parents, and awareness campaigns for our youth. Our unwavering commitment will persist until we achieve a future with zero opioid-related overdoses," Valente said.

PDFNJ is also collaborating with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to educate student-athletes about the risks associated with opioids. Student-athletes face an elevated risk of opioid use due to sports-related injuries, which send over 2.6 million children to emergency rooms annually, according to CDC statistics. This initiative educates student-athletes on the dangers of prescription opioids and emphasizes the importance of physical and mental self-care.

"With enhanced education, awareness, and prevention efforts, we aspire to mitigate the evolving opioid epidemic, which continues to present emerging threats such as the opioids fentanyl and xylazine, responsible for a significant number of deaths," Valente said.

PDFNJ's achievements include pioneering New Jersey's first statewide RX take-back event, recognized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Additionally, PDFNJ played a pivotal role in the passage of legislation requiring healthcare professionals to engage in conversations with patients or their parents about the potential for opioid dependency and addiction, as well as alternatives to opioid medications.


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 217 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.