HILLSBOROUGH, NJ  - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson will lead a conversation about drug and alcohol abuse and strategies to prevent children from experimenting with drugs and alcohol during a "Night of Conversation" at the township municipal building, 379 South Branch Road Thursday, Nov. 16, beginning at 7 p.m.

Parents and their children are invited to participate in the conversation, sponsored by the Somerset County YMCA, Hillsborough Township School District, Empower Somerset, the Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset County, Hillsborough Municipal Alliance and Hillsborough Youth Services Commission.

Earnest dialogue about prevention and intervention resources, and the extent of the drug and alcohol problem and addiction in the county will be underscored by Robertson, one of the panelists . Individuals who have been affected by addiction will share their personal stories of loss and recovery.

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“In Somerset County, we see the casualties of drug and alcohol abuse, especially opioid addiction, every day. Current trends in opioid and heroin abuse are unforgiving - the Night of Conversation is designed to interrupt the momentum,” Robertson said.

 “And while the law enforcement community continues to play a significant role in support, education, and enforcing the law, it requires an entire community to address an issue as widespread and potentially lethal as drug and alcohol abuse and addiction” he added.

Space is limited and registration is encouraged – please visitwww.somersetcountyymca.org or call 908-369-0490 to register.

Early in 2017, the New Jersey Legislature passed a joint resolution that was signed into law, designating a Night of Conversation in November of each year. The purpose of the law is to create awareness and to help families initiate conversations about drug and alcohol addiction.

Organizations throughout New Jersey have an opportunity to participate and make available resources to their constituents.

Opioid abuse is a swiftly growing problem. According to a Trust for America’s Health report, deaths from prescription painkiller use have more than quadrupled in the past 15 years and deaths from heroin have tripled since 2010.

In addition, nationally, more than two million Americans misuse prescription drugs, and nearly half million are addicted to heroin. The aforementioned statistics scratch the surface of an ever-growing substance abuse problem in the Garden State.

The Night of Conversation initiative hopes to stem the tide of drug use by arming parents with effective strategies to help them have meaningful conversations with their children on this challenging topic.

“We are proud to host a Night of Conversation in Hillsborough and to partner with Somerset County YMCA and Empower Somerset to sponsor this event,” said Minda Maggio, Hillsborough Township School, District Life Skills Coordinator. “While we consistently integrate drug and alcohol prevention lessons into our curriculum, Night of Conversation is another effective platform in which to engage parents and youth, while demonstrating the power of collaboration.”

“Something as simple as having regular conversations as a family can be such a powerful prevention tool,” said Brenda M. Esler, LSW, Executive Director of Empower Somerset and representative of the Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset County. “We know that kids who have dinner with their families are 50% less likely to drink alcohol or use drugs. This event is all about bringing families together and opening up that communication.”