NEWARK, April 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As the opioid epidemic continues to plague New Jersey, a statewide effort has begun to address prescription drug dependency and heroin abuse through a series of 17 town hall meetings that will be held in every region of the state over the next 18 months.
The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall series is being organized by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, with collaboration from hundreds of local prevention and treatment organizations, as well as local and county law enforcement, government and medical community leaders.
The series will provide New Jersey residents an opportunity to more fully understand the impact this national epidemic is having on their own communities; the local, county and state resources and initiatives available to them; as well as an opportunity to highlight exemplary local programs that can be replicated throughout the state. The town hall series will provide information to New Jersey residents to help them make better decisions for loved ones and to better understand the link between opioid prescription drug abuse and rising heroin abuse.
NJTV will air a half-hour special program beginning May 2 to commence the town hall series which will feature: Moderator, Michael Hill, NJTV; and guests: Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey; Mary Ann Christopher, Vice President, Clinical Operations, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Senator Joseph Vitale, Chair, New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee; Lewis S. Nelson, MD, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School; and Joseph Coronato, Ocean County Prosecutor. At the conclusion of the town hall series, NJTV also will air a statewide town hall, at which local needs and successes will be featured and shared in order to develop solutions.
"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," explained Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.
"Since 1999, Horizon has been actively engaged in combating New Jersey's opioid epidemic and the holistic approach we have developed combines education, prevention and treatment efforts to give us the best hope of turning the tide," said Robert Marino, Chief Executive Officer and President of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. "We have spent more than $308 million on substance abuse and addiction treatment for our members over the past two years and have invested tens of millions of dollars to help us detect patterns of prescription opioid abuse and intervene with doctors and patients to stop abuse before it becomes addiction. The Knockout Opioid Abuse Town Hall series will engage New Jerseyans in a frank discussion that raises awareness and underscores that when it comes to opioids, an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure."
A dedicated website, knockoutopioidabuse.drugfreenj.org, has been created to provide a full schedule of countywide town hall meetings and registration information. Knockoutopioidabuse.drugfreenj.org also will provide local, county and state substance abuse prevention and treatment resources available. All town hall meetings are free of charge and open to the public.
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SOURCE Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey