In 2021, there were over 3,000 suspected drug related deaths in New Jersey alone. That is why The Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey has begun a learning series of webinars titled “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day.” Chrissy Southard, Marketing Associate, attended the past two panel discussions to better understand the epidemic that grips our state.
On October 6th, 2022, Dr. Andrew Kolodny provided an in-depth update on the state of the Opioid crisis across the nation but took a much closer dive into the effect it has had on New Jersey, in the discussion titled “Where We Stand and How We Move Forward.” As the Medical Director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University, Dr. Kolodny is considered one of the leading experts in the nation on the prescription opioid crisis.
On November 10th, 2022, Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day hosted another webinar titled “Saving Lives – Harm Reduction and the Opioid Crisis.” Panelists included Recovery Coach Richard Lo Rosso Jr., Program Management Officer of NJDOH Charla Cousar, and Health Educator at Rutgers RWJ Medical School Division of Addiction Psychiatry Katherine Kneisel.
Both of these events were extremely informational and incredibly inspirational, and recordings of the webinars can be viewed at https://knockoutday.drugfreenj.org/webinars. Some of the biggest takeaways of the two webinars are mapped out below:
How is the epidemic effecting New Jersey?
New Jersey is ranked number fourteen in the nation for drug related deaths, putting us in the top percentile among all fifty states. This is something that we want to change. We want our loved ones, coworkers, neighbors, and peers to be safe and healthy.
How do we reverse the stigma around opioid abuse?
Dr. Kolodny emphasized the importance of removing the stigma since, unfortunately, there is a discriminatory ethos and dialect surrounding this epidemic. Some might say that this stigma in itself is an epidemic. It is important to remember that Opioid abuse can happen to anyone – any age, any race, any gender, any background.
What can YOU do to help end the epidemic?
Change always starts with one person. If you use your voice to let people know about substance abuse and educate others, you can help reverse the stigma and encourage someone to make a lifechanging decision. There are free trainings available to NJ residents provided by Rutgers Medical school that provide education on important Opioid prevention topics, such as how to administer Narcan – a lifesaving treatment that reverses the effects of an overdose. More information and how to register can be found on their website.
The most important thing you can do if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction is call 844-ReachNJ. This number is a hot line that provides necessary and potentially lifesaving information, such as referrals to supportive services. Because recovery is just a phone call away!
What are WE doing to help end the epidemic?
We’ve been working in conjunction with The NJ Department of Human Services to raise awareness and encourage anyone struggling to reach out for help. Our campaign runs statewide, to ensure we are getting this ever-important message to be seen by those who need it most. Blanketing the state with the services available through ReachNJ spreads the necessary message of hope. You can see the results of the campaigns we’ve run for the DHS here, and as always, we’re here to help your brand spread your message – contact us today to find out how.