• TED Talk on Opioid Withdrawal and New Jersey Legislation

    Posted 6/19/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    I recently watched a TED talk about a man named Travis Rider’s experience of opioid withdrawal. For those of you who do not know, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) called TED talks. They feature expert speakers who cover various topics, including education, business, science, and technology.

    In this particular TED talk, a man named Travis Rider opened up about his addiction and the agony of withdrawal. In his closing remarks he stated, 


    “Properly managing prescribed opioids will not by itself solve the crisis—America’s epidemic is far bigger than that—but when a medication is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year, reckless management of that medication is indefensible. Helping opioid therapy patients to get off of their medication that they were prescribed may not be a complete solution for our epidemic, but it will clearly constitute progress.”


    Travis’ story highlights just how crucial it is for doctors to further educate themselves on safe methods for prescribing opioids. It stresses the importance for prescribers to disclose the addiction potential of opioids and to provide their patients with non-opioid alternatives, if and when they are available.

  • Pick Up Free Naloxone on June 18th

    Posted 6/12/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    More than 3,000 people in New Jersey died of a drug overdose in 2018. That number would have been much higher if law enforcement and emergency medical services did not administer naloxone more than 16,000 times throughout the state last year.


    Naloxone can reverse opioid overdoses by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. It has been an invaluable tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic.


    Governor Phil Murphy announced last week that on June 18, New Jersey residents will be able to walk in to participating pharmacies throughout the state and obtain naloxone for free and without a prescription or an appointment. Click HERE for a list of participating pharmacies.

  • Opioid Warning Label Bill Passed by New Jersey General Assembly

    Posted 6/5/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Last month, the New Jersey General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would require all prescription opioid medications to have a warning sticker advising patients of the risks of addiction and overdose. The bill had previously passed the State Senate, also unanimously, back in March.


    If the bill is signed by Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey would be the first state to adopt a permanent law requiring such warning labels.


    This legislation would be another positive step in helping to educate New Jersey residents about the potential for dependency and addiction to opioids.


    While prescribers are required to have a conversation with their patients about these risks before prescribing an opioid – thanks to legislation enacted in 2017 -- adding another layer of information will help patients make safer and healthier decisions.

  • New Jersey Law Enforcement Community Unites to Discuss Opioid Epidemic

    Posted 5/31/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    On Thursday in Atlantic City, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey held the New Jersey Law Enforcement Training: On the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic conference, the first ever statewide law enforcement event to unite federal, state, county and local law enforcement officials to discuss the opioid epidemic ravaging the state.

    The conference was a resounding success, as more than 200 attendees, including representatives from more than 60 state, county and local law enforcement agencies, received important updates on the crisis and their role in addressing it.

    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who delivered the keynote address, announced for the first time publicly that his office has filed a lawsuit against eight members of the Sackler family, founders of oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. He also outlined the progress being made in the fight against the opioid epidemic. 

  • Mother’s Story Helps to Break Down Stigma of Addiction

    Posted 5/22/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Tracy Reinholt, who lost her son, Hunter, to a drug overdose, recently told her story to The Jersey Journal. Hunter died on Easter morning after experimenting with gabapentin pills he took from his grandfather’s medicine cabinet.


    My heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Reinholt family.


    Reinholt, who had previously shared Hunter’s story in his obituary, urged readers to be aware of the dangers of prescription medications and to protect their children from these risks. Many parents that have lost their children to the opioid epidemic have become strong advocates to inform and educate families of the extreme dangers opioids can pose to children and adults alike.


    Reinholt and other parents are doing important work by sharing their experiences. These stories help to break down the stigma of addiction by encouraging others to seek help and by reinforcing that addiction is a medical disease that can affect anyone.

  • NJBIZ Health Care Power 50 Announced

    Posted 5/15/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    This week, I had the honor of being included in the 2019 NJBIZ Health Care Power 50, which highlights the top leaders in the health care field in the state of New Jersey.


    While I am appreciative of this personal recognition, I believe this honor says more about the crucial role substance use prevention plays in health care. It is also a sign of the continued effort to break down the stigma of addiction by recognizing drug addiction as a public health issue.


    As the opioid crisis continues to take its toll on our state, it has become increasingly necessary for communities and families to understand the dangers of both prescription and illicit drugs and how to protect loved ones from going down the path to addiction.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has played an important role in educating the public through its many school-based programs, the Do No Harm prescriber education series, the 15 Minute Child Break parent education program, the Drug Don’t Work in NJ workplace program and the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series. This is also a tribute to our many prevention collaborators throughout the state, which have helped to spread important prevention messages in their communities.


    Note: The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will continue its efforts to address the opioid crisis by holding the New Jersey Law Enforcement Training: On the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic on Thursday, May 30 at the Tropicana Atlantic City. I invite all New Jersey law enforcement professionals to attend this informative event. Limited seating is still available.

  • Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert is Next Week

    Posted 5/1/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    It’s that time of year again. We’re just over a week again from the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Annual Prevention Concert.


    It’s hard to believe this year’s concert will be the 15th in the history of the program, which challenges high school students to create original music with lyrics that contain peer-to-peer substance use prevention messages.


    In the previous 14 years, there have been so many great performers and great messages about living healthy, drug-free lives. I am just as excited to see what this year’s 13 finalists have in store for the Prevention Concert at 7 p.m. Friday, May 10th at Rutgers University’s Mastrobuono Theatre. FREE tickets are available HERE or by calling 973-467-2100 ext. 19.


    Click HERE to listen to the original songs by this year’s finalists, and make sure to vote for your favorites. Online voting is open through May 9, and these totals will be factored into the performers’ scores on the night of the concert. The student or students who receive the highest score will receive a $5,000 music contract to perform their music at events throughout the state over the next year.


    You can also follow PDFNJ and the hashtag #ShoutDownDrugs on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about New Jersey Shout Down Drugs and this year’s contestants. 

  • Chinese Fentanyl Ban to Reduce Supply of Deadly Drug in U.S.

    Posted 4/24/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    Earlier this month, China announced that it would be banning variations of the powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl.


    Of 70, 237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, 28,466 involved synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, which has become the most deadly drug in America’s opioid epidemic in recent years.


    A majority of the fentanyl in the United States comes from China, and officials are hopeful that the ban could reduce the supply of fentanyl reaching the United States.


    Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The extremely potent drug is often mixed in with heroin but has also appeared with other substances, such as cocaine and marijuana.


    Earlier this year, PDFNJ launched a new campaign illustrating the potent nature of fentanyl. It is vital that New Jersey residents are aware of its deadly effects.


    Drug-related deaths in New Jersey have eclipsed record totals in the state in each of the past four years, in large part due to the increase in fentanyl overdoses. Officials estimate more than half of the state’s 3,163 drug overdoses in 2018 involved fentanyl, according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. In 2017, about 1,400 or 50 percent of New Jersey drug overdose deaths were fentanyl-related.

  • State Loosens Restrictions on Medication-Assisted Treatment

    Posted 4/10/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    The state of New Jersey took an important step forward in the fight against the opioid epidemic last week. Beginning April 1, the Department of Human Services no longer requires approval to begin medication-assisted treatment to treat Medicaid patients for opioid addiction.


    Prior to this decision, people struggling with addiction could have to wait days to receive authorization to be prescribed medication-assisted treatment, a delay that could cost someone their life.


    Medication-assisted treatment is an important tool in battling opioid addiction. Studies have shown it reduces opioid use and overdose deaths and that patients prescribed medication-assisted treatment were more likely to remain in therapy for their addiction.


    Despite this evidence, accessibility to medication-assisted treatment is a major issue throughout the country. I am hopeful more states will follow New Jersey’s lead in broadening access to this important treatment option.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will host its Angel of Hope Gala on Thursday evening. This year’s honoree is Dr. Andrew Kolodny, who will be recognized for his efforts in the fight against the opioid epidemic.


    I want to thank all of the sponsors for making the event a huge success, surpassing previous attendance and fundraising records. These funds will help provide free substance use prevention resources crucial to New Jersey families and communities.

  • Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Halls Begin Next Week

    Posted 4/4/2019 by Angelo M. Valente

    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s newest collaboration with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey kicked off last week with the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Summit on the State and Federal Response to the Opioid Epidemic at the Newark Museum. Expert speakers from the state and federal governments provided the capacity crowd an understanding of the opioid crisis and the resources available for communities to address the issue.


    The two-year Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative will feature town halls in 21 communities – one in each county – as well as programs designed to educate parents and prescribers and a media campaign to spread awareness of the epidemic to all residents of New Jersey.


    Jonathan Pearson, Executive Director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, outlined the initiative last week in an article on Horizon’s Health News website. The three-pronged approach of outreach, education and awareness will serve a vital role in informing New Jersey residents of the risks or opioids and actions that can be taken to address this crisis.


    The first of the community town halls will be held 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 in Robbinsville in Mercer County. To attend this event or to stay informed on town halls in your area, visit

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