Prevention Still the Key to Reversing Opioid Crisis

December is almost here, and with it 2017 begins to wind down. This year has presented many challenges but also great progress in the fight against the opioid epidemic ravaging New Jersey and the United States.

The launching of the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey has helped to spread important dialogue about the opioid epidemic to counties throughout the state.

The continuation of the Do No Harm Symposium Series, co-sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, has brought the message of safer prescribing practices to doctors and dentists.

However, more steps need to be taken to address the disease of addiction and its horrific effects. A recent study conducted by the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust projected that the rate of drug- and alcohol-related deaths and suicides in New Jersey could increase significantly in the next several years if proper action is not taken.

The state’s death rate for these three causes, which measured at 30.5 per 100,000 people in 2015, could rise to 44.4 per 100,000 by 2025.

The report suggests a strategy with greater emphasis on prevention to avoid the possible rise in death rate. New Jersey residents will have opportunities to engage in prevention-focused events as the year winds down.

Two more Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Halls will be held in December: December 5th at Kean University in Union County and December 12th in Middlesex County. Businesses also are invited to join Drugs Don’t Work in NJ!, a free program that encourages and guides employers to create drug-free workplaces.

Prevention certainly will play a big role in stemming the opioid crisis, and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will continue to play its part as the year ends and into 2018.

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