In 2016, the Sussex County area had 36 overdose deaths due to heroin, prescription medications and other drugs, along with 52 overdoses where Narcan was administered by law enforcement. Those numbers increased from 25 overdose deaths and 44 administrations of Narcan in 2015. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose, an average of about 91 deaths per day, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community members in the Sussex County area are invited to join the conversation on the national opioid epidemic as the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey continues its Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall series.

"All residents of New Jersey are encouraged to join the conversation and participate in their local Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall to understand the disease of addiction, develop strategies to help protect their families and identify resources to address individuals who have become dependent on prescription drugs or are abusing heroin," said Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

The Center for Prevention and Counseling in Newton invites the public to a free “Knock Out Opiate Abuse Town Hall” event sponsored by The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, the philanthropic arm of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, New Jersey and The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. This Town Hall series has been occurring throughout the state of New Jersey and will be held in Sussex County at The Center, 65 Newton-Sparta Road, Newton on Friday, Sept. 22. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast followed by a panel of guest speakers between 9and 10am, including Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch; State Senator Steve Oroho; Newton Medical Center’s Emergency Department Director, Dr. Anthony Brutico; Director of Clinical Services at The Center, Rachel Wallace; Certified Prevention Specialist at The Center, Annmarie Shafer and Recovery Advocacy Trainer from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NJ, Aaron Kucharski.

The morning will conclude with participation from the public between 10-11 a.m., allowing people to share their experiences, concerns, questions and suggestions to combat opioid misuse. These statewide Town Halls are shedding a light on opioid misuse while offering strategies for prevention and awareness. Changing attitudes on addiction, reducing stigma and educating communities with information from the US Surgeon General’s recommendations are all part of the solution to reducing and preventing opioid misuse. The public is invited to this free event to join others in hopes of ultimately reducing and preventing opioid misuse.

Selected pieces of artwork from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 Heroin Addiction Art Exhibit will be on display for Town Hall attendees to reflect upon. In addition, local free resource packets prepared by The Center for Prevention and Counseling will be available to take-away for all attendees.

Please register for the Knock Out Opiate Abuse Town Hall event at this link: http://knockoutopioidabuse.drugfreenj.org/townhallseries/Sussex-county. For more information about addiction prevention, treatment and recovery in Sussex County, go to www.centerforprevention.org or call (973)383-4787.

Annmarie Shafer