HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - To support parents' efforts to prevent children from experimenting with alcohol and drugs, Somerset County YMCA, Hillsborough Township School District, Empower Somerset, the Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset County, Hillsborough Municipal Alliance and Hillsborough Youth Services Commission are hosting a Night of Conversation Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Hillsborough Township Municipal Building, on South Branch Road in Hillsborough.

Parents of children in grades seven through 12 throughout Hillsborough and Somerset County are invited to attend the event to discuss alcohol and drugs, gain information prevention and intervention resources and learn more about the drug and alcohol problem in the county.

Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson will be a panelist to talk about the harsh realities of addiction in the county. There will also be professionals from the area to help parents start conversations on different topics, like drug and alcohol abuse. 

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Those who have been affected by addition will also share their personal stories of loss and recovery.

Registration is encouraged because space is limited. To sign up, visit somersetcountyymca.org or call 908-369-0490.

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

Organizations throughout New Jersey can participate and make resources available to their constituents.

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

Opioid abuse, the release said, is a swiftly growing problem, and, according to Trust for America, deaths from prescription painkiller use have more than quadrupled in the past 15 years and deaths from heroin have tripled since 2010. In addition, the release said, nationally, more than two million Americans misuse prescription drugs, and nearly half million are addicted to heroin.

"For more than 140 years, Somerset County YMCA has been working to address community needs," David Carcieri, president and CEO of Somerset County YMCA, said in the release. "Drawing on these firmly established roots, we recognize the severe impact that substance abuse has on individuals, families and loved ones, as well as the community at large. While we are dedicated to providing acute support to aid families and members in need, we believe strongly in the power of prevention, including establishing healthy conversation habits among parents and children early and often."

To learn more, contact Megan James at mjames@somersetcountyymca.org.