• Study Shows Link Between Dentist-Prescribed Opioids and Opioid Abuse

    Posted 12/12/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    A new study released last week found that opioids prescribed by dentists have led to a significant increase in the number of young people who have misused opioids.


    The study, conducted by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California, found that nearly 6 percent of a sample size of almost 15,000 people ages 16 to 25, who received initial opioid prescriptions in 2015, had been diagnosed with opioid abuse within a year. Just 0.4 percent of people from a similar group who had not received opioids were diagnosed with opioid abuse during the same timeframe.


    These numbers are troubling and confirm the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s concern about the overprescribing of opioids. Millions of wisdom tooth extractions are performed every year, meaning that a large number of teens and young adults could be exposed to opioids for the first time.


    Compounding the tragedy behind these figures is that such cases are almost entirely preventable. A study has found that non-opioid pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be more effective in treating dental pain.


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has worked to inform dentists on safer prescribing practices through the Do No Harm Symposium Series, which has been held throughout the state with the Drug Enforcement Administration ­– New Jersey Division and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program and the New Jersey Dental Association since 2013.


    While progress has been made in limiting prescription opioids, this study shows why steps to reduce initiation of opioid use are so necessary. The Partnership is determined to continue working with doctors and dentists to help keep them informed on prescribing guidelines and protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s residents.

  • Daytop New Jersey Expands and Enhances Services in Midst of Opioid Crisis

    Posted 12/5/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Daytop New Jersey has proven to be a great partner of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and a pillar of the New Jersey treatment community. This past April, Daytop hosted the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert at its residential facility in Mendham. The event was a huge success as high school musicians from throughout the state performed their original and inspiring substance use prevention songs in front of a capacity crowd. This week, I welcome Jim Curtin, president and CEO of Daytop New Jersey, to inform you about some of the services being provided by Daytop throughout the state.


    By Jim Curtin, President and CEO, Daytop New Jersey

    Many people know Daytop New Jersey as a provider of residential services for adolescents struggling with substance use disorders. What most people do not know is that in the past few years Daytop has broadened its mission to serve adults with substance use and mental health challenges and is part of its largest growing programs in response to the growing opioid epidemic in the state of New Jersey.  


    The decision to change the mission and begin working with adults and their families did not come lightly, yet even as of ten years ago, it was impossible to ignore the trends that an increasing number of adults with opioid use disorders were in need of treatment. Therefore, the executive leadership and the board got together and made the decision to begin offering outpatient and intensive outpatient services at the Morris County outpatient program in Morris Plains. The program grew so quickly that the next step was to offer similar services at three additional outpatient treatment centers. 

  • More New Jersey Parents Becoming Aware of Prescription Opioid Risks

    Posted 11/28/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    As we approach the final month of 2018, I’d like to bring you some encouraging news.


    A recent study created by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that more New Jersey parents are informed on the potential dangers of prescription opioids and their link to heroin use.


    A poll conducted in September found that 69 present of parents of children 18 or younger believe there is a link between prescription painkillers given for sports injuries or wisdom teeth removal and the heroin epidemic currently impacting New Jersey.


    A 2016 study conducted by the Partnership had found that 66 percent of parents of middle school students believed there was a connection between prescription opioids and heroin.


    Parents play the most important role in substance use prevention for their children, making it crucial that they are armed with the information necessary to make the best decisions for their children.


    While there is still more work to do in educating the public on the risks of prescription opioids, this study shows that awareness efforts are helping to make a positive impact in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted 11/21/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    With Thanksgiving just a day away, I would like to give thanks for all the invaluable groups and individuals throughout the state and the nation who have helped support the mission of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.


    I am grateful for the work being done by our partners in the prevention, treatment and recovery fields, as well as those in government, education, law enforcement and the medical community who are leading the fight against the opioid crisis.


    I am also thankful for the support from the media in helping share our campaigns throughout New Jersey and bring awareness to the state’s residents about the opioid epidemic.


    Lastly, I’m thankful for all the residents in New Jersey who have taken action to prevent their family, friends and neighbors from going down the path to addiction or who have assisted in finding help for people affected by this epidemic. Finding a solution to the opioid crisis will require determination and a coordinated effort in every community in the state, and I am thankful for all of you who have joined the conversation and engaged in the efforts to stem this epidemic.


    On behalf of the entire staff at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, I would like to wish you all a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

  • Veterans Affairs a Leader in Addressing Opioid Epidemic

    Posted 11/14/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    In last week’s blog, I focused on a questionable decision by the Food and Drug Administration to approve a new and extremely powerful opioid.


    This week, I’d like to turn my attention to a federal agency that has taken many positive steps to fight the opioid epidemic.


    In 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs released new guidelines on opioid prescribing, which included a recommendation for prescribers to seek alternatives to opioid therapy for chronic pain and, in cases when opioids are deemed necessary, to prescribe them for a short duration at the lowest dose possible and to have discussions of risks and benefits of opioids and alternative therapies with patients.


    These guidelines are similar to the requirements in New Jersey’s Patient Notification Act, a law passed last year that has been replicated in six other states throughout the country. The VA is helping to put these important prescribing principles in place to help better care for men and women who served this nation proudly.


    On that note, I would like to thank all veterans for their service and wish them a belated happy Veterans Day.

  • FDA Approves Powerful New Opioid

    Posted 11/7/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved Dsuvia, a powerful new opioid used to treat acute pain.


    With the opioid crisis continuing to kill tens of thousands of Americans, this development is extremely concerning. This new drug is 1,000 times more powerful than morphine.


    I hope that the FDA reconsiders this decision to now make available a much more powerful opioid that could potentially wind up in the wrong hands.


    There are many facets to prescription drug misuse prevention, but one of the most important actions that every family can take is properly disposing of prescription medications to prevent them from ending up in the wrong hands.


    This Saturday, communities throughout the country will participate in the 10th Annual American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, an event that helps to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and encourages safe disposal of prescription drugs.


    Prescription drug drop boxes are available 24 hours, seven days a week in many communities and can be located using the AMCC RX Drop mobile app or at


    If you cannot participate in the National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, you can still take the American Medicine Chest Five-Step Challenge throughout the year:

    1. Take inventory of the medicines in your home
    2. Dispose of any unused, unwanted and expired medicines
    3. Secure the medicines you keep
    4. Take your prescription as directed
    5. Speak to children about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs 

  • Colorful, Cartoon Pills a Concern on Halloween

    Posted 10/31/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Happy Halloween! Today is a great opportunity for children of all ages to enjoy a fun-filled night with their friends and family.


    However, it’s still important for parents and guardians to exercise caution and supervision, not only as their children go door-to-door in their neighborhoods but also before they dig in to any of the candy they receive. In a disturbing story from Georgia, police are concerned about drug pills that look like candy possibly ending up in the hands of children.


    The pills are colorful and in the shapes of popular cartoon characters, which police say might lead a child to mistake them for sweet and sour candy. For older teens who might be aware that the pills are drugs, the pills’ colorful appearance might make them seem less dangerous.


    To make sure children are kept safe, parents should check all Halloween candy before children begin eating it. This incident also serves as a reminder that it’s important for parents to talk about the dangers of drugs with their children.


    Today is about fun and creating memories that will last for years to come. Stay vigilant to help keep children safe and have an enjoyable Halloween.

  • Red Ribbon Week a Prime Time to Educate Children and Parents

    Posted 10/24/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Yesterday, the annual Red Ribbon Week kicked off throughout the United States to make youth aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol use.  


    The campaign will run through October 31 and has been held every year since 1988 to commemorate Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985.


    Red Ribbon Week is an important opportunity for students throughout the country to become better informed on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol and also to profess to themselves, their peers and their communities that they are committed to living drug-free and healthy lives.


    This year’s Red Ribbon Week theme is, “Life is your journey. Travel drug-free.”


    The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey offers several free resources to help New Jersey youth embark on that journey toward a substance-free lifestyle.


    Programs include the Third Grade Contract for a Healthy Life and the Fourth Grade Folder Contest, which both encourage students to live healthy lifestyles free of substance use. 


    The Middle School PSA Challenge invites students in grades 5-8 to create a 30-second public service announcement with a substance use prevention message. The creators of the winning entry are then chosen to film their PSA, which will be broadcast on stations throughout the state.


    High school students can spread their own substance abuse prevention messages in the annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs music competition. The contest culminates with the annual Prevention Concert, at which finalists perform their original music and winners are given contracts to perform their songs at events during the following year.


    Of course, parents and guardians play a major role in preventing children from using drugs and alcohol, and the 15 Minute Child Break provides adults with information on current drug trends and how to best address the topic of drugs and alcohol with children. The Fifth Grade Parent Alert is also a useful tool in guiding a parent on how to talk with their children about drugs.


    Red Ribbon Week is a perfect opportunity to continue prevention education for children and parents.


    In other news, I am honored to announce I will be receiving the Daniel A. Kane Memorial Community Service Award on Thursday night at the CarePoint Foundation Gala.


    CarePoint has been a great partner of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey over the past five years, sponsoring several events including a Do No Harm Symposium, the annual Drugs Don’t Work in NJ drug-free workplace seminar and the Hudson County Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall.


    CarePoint has also been proactive in addressing the ongoing opioid crisis in New Jersey. Christ Hospital in Jersey City recently became the second hospital in the country to implement the Alternatives to Opioids program in its emergency department. 


    Once again, I am grateful to the CarePoint Foundation for presenting me with this prestigious award and am looking forward further collaboration to tackle the opioid epidemic in years to come.

  • NJTV Special on Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series Premieres Thursday, October 18th

    Posted 10/17/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    Over the past two years, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey have had the opportunity to visit each county in the state with the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series. The town hall series engaged residents, families, professionals and communities regarding their concerns and what best practices currently exist to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.


    The town halls moved throughout the state to engage and inform the public on the opioid crisis, while simultaneously learning from residents and experts how the crisis is affecting their communities.


    At 9 p.m. Thursday night, NJTV will premiere an hour-long special on the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series, which examines the impact the series had on New Jersey residents. The show will focus on what attendees learned, as well as innovative locally driven initiatives that are serving as role models for other counties and communities to replicate. 


    More than 14,000 people participated in the town halls either in-person or by viewing an online stream of the events. The series featured more than 100 expert panelists, including 16 county prosecutors, 10 members of the New Jersey General Assembly and four state senators, as well as several prevention and treatment professionals, medical doctors and recovery specialists.


    While the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series helped to bring vital, life-saving information on the opioid crisis ravaging New Jersey to all 21 counties in the state, the town halls also simultaneously provided a forum for leaders in the fight against the epidemic to showcase initiatives that have been making a positive impact.


    For a list of NJTV channels in your area, visit


    Tune in to NJTV starting Thursday night to learn more about the opioid epidemic and how you can bring these best practices to your community.

  • Thank You for Doing Your Part to Knock Out Opioid Abuse!

    Posted 10/10/2018 by Angelo M. Valente

    This past Saturday was Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day in New Jersey. In all 21 counties of our state, participants came together in their own community to shine light on the opioid crisis by sharing a message of prevention, education and hope.


    An estimated 10,000 people throughout New Jersey participated, including high school and college students, scouts, prevention coalitions, law enforcement officers, businesses, local elected officials and two United States Congressmen, Bill Pascrell and Leonard Lance.


    Many municipalities followed the lead of the State Senate and General Assembly by passing resolutions declaring October 6 Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day in their towns.


    Many participating groups brought the message of Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day to community events throughout the state, while more than 50 high school football teams from 15 counties ran onto the field with Knock Out Opioid Abuse stickers displayed on their helmets.


    I thank those who participated for their time, effort and energy that went into making this day a meaningful response to the opioid epidemic. Whether they were canvassing communities, visiting prescribers, coordinating proclamations, sharing email campaigns or posting messages on social media, everyone made an impact!


    Please click the read more link for a few examples from around the state, and I welcome you to share your efforts by emailing them directly to me or using the hashtag #KnockOutOpioidAbuse on social media.


    Lastly, I am proud that New Jersey is the only state in the country to have a statewide day in which thousands of volunteers unite to Knock Out Opioid Abuse. You can all take great pride in knowing that Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day has been recognized by the New Jersey Ad Club as the state’s top advocacy/political multimedia campaign and that it also received the silver award in the Not-for-Profit Health Marketing category from the National Public Health Information Coalition.

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