Webinar to Highlight Impact of Opioid Crisis on Vulnerable Populations



Contact: Lisa Batitto, news@drugfreenj.org

Webinar to Highlight Impact of Opioid Crisis on Vulnerable Populations

PDFNJ, NJ Attorney General’s Office and OEFA to Host Final Webinar of 2023

MILLBURN ­– State and local experts will continue the discussion of the opioid epidemic’s impact on vulnerable populations in the next webinar of the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series, organized by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) and the Opioid Education Foundation of America (OEFA). 

The webinar, “The Opioid Epidemic: A Focus on Vulnerable Populations,” which is the third to focus on vulnerable populations, will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, December 7. It will examine how individuals living in rural communities and the deaf and hard of hearing are affected by addiction and what resources are available to overcome the challenges to these communities being able to access services.

Speakers will include Dr. Michael Ganon from Garden State Treatment Center; Matthew Rudd, special agent for strategic planning and programs and community justice coordinator with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office; Tevis Thompson, project manager for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Opioid and Stimulant Use Disorder Initiatives within the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS); and Harry Reyes, Assistant Division Director of the Office of Treatment and Recovery Supports within the DMHAS.

“Almost every New Jersey resident has been affected by the opioid epidemic, but there are several groups that have shouldered a greater burden in this crisis,” said PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente. “It is important to understand why vulnerable populations exist and work to help them access the resources and aid they need as we continue to experience the devastating impact of the opioid crisis.”

The webinar will be the 11th in the 2023 Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series. PDFNJ has hosted the series in collaboration with OEFA and NJ CARES, which is responsible for overseeing addiction-fighting efforts across the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and has focused on educating the community on various topics related to prevention, treatment and recovery.

The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series began in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to educate New Jersey residents on various aspects of the opioid epidemic and its impact on New Jersey and the nation. It is a branch of PDFNJ’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day statewide initiative, which has been held annually on October 6 since 2016 to educate residents and prescribers on the risks of prescription opioids and to raise awareness of the opioid crisis throughout the state.

The 2022 Learning Series included 12 webinars that drew a total audience of more than 8,000 participants and featured various speakers discussing all aspects of the opioid epidemic, including Sam Quinones, Author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic”; Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Medical Director of Opioid Policy Research, Heller School for Social Policy and Management; and former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey. Other speakers included representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey State Police, National Institute on Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

NJ CARES data shows that more than 2,800 people in New Jersey died from suspected drug-related overdoses in 2022. A vast majority of these overdose deaths involved some form of opioid including prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

The Learning Series will continue in 2024 with new topics and expert speakers. To learn more about Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day and for a schedule of webinars, please visit knockoutday.drugfreenj.org.


Best known for its statewide anti-drug advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $200 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception the Partnership has garnered 217 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.