Warren Freeholders fight opioid abuse


Hannah Schroer , Reporter, Published: 12:50 AM EDT Sep 29, 2016

Photo shows Mary Jo Harris (center) alongside Freeholder Director Jason Sarnoski (left), Ed Smith (right) and Richard Gardner. They are accompanied by community members who have been personally touched by the heroin epidemic.

Warren County Freeholders declared Oct. 6 "Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day" in an ongoing effort to combat the problem. The country has seen a sharp increase in heroin and synthetic opioid deaths since 2014, according to Mary Jo Harris with the Family Guidance Center of Warren County. In 2014, six out of 10 drug overdoses involved prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, OxyContin and Percocet.

Harris said the Family Guidance Center would be distributing literature to neighborhoods and schools in the county as part of a statewide initiative. Volunteers would also deliver CDC opioid prescription guidelines to local doctors’ offices.

Freeholder Ed Smith said the opioid epidemic was a tragic result of over-prescription and inadequate disposal.

Also, some Warren County road projects are stalled due to New Jersey legislature’s Transportation Trust Fund problems.

Freeholder Richard Gardner said aging bridges could easily become a crisis across the county and state without transportation funds. “The seriousness of New Jersey being able to have good commerce may come to a grinding halt,” Gardner said.

Freeholder director Jason Sarnoski said he’d received complaints from residents about roads that were slated for improvements this year. With the TTF empty and legislature at an impasse on how to recoup the necessary money, the state pulled back more than $2 million in transportation funding. “It’s not easily made up,” Sarnoski said. “You can’t just throw that back in there. We already funded that $2.5 - $3 million.”

Funds could be raised with a 23 percent gas tax increase. However New Jersey legislators are at an impasse with Governor Christie on how to go about it.