UNION COUNTY, NJ--Union County residents are being asked to join the conversation on the opioid epidemic gripping the state and nation at a Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

Organized with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, the series focuses on the link between prescription drug dependency and heroin abuse and examines the causes of the current opioid crisis and possible solutions in addressing the issue. Atlantic Health System, Kean University, and Prevention Links are serving as collaborating partners in the Union County town hall.

"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,” Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey said.

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Every day, an average of 144 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. In New Jersey, an estimated 2,000 people died of an opioid overdose in 2016.

As of November 3, 84 people in Union County had died of an overdose in 2017, while law enforcement officers in the county had deployed naloxone 155 times. More than 225 people in Union County have died of a drug overdose since the start of 2015.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, an addiction to opioid's and heroin have specific signs to watch out for. Here are some of the signs you can look for:

Behavioral Changes:

  • Slipping grades, lateness, skipping class
  • Fights with family or friends
  • Change in friends
  • Change in mood, eating or sleeping patterns
  • Depression or loss of motivation
  • Missing money or valuables
  • Increased candle, incense, or air freshener use
  • Missing prescription medicine

Physical Changes:

  • Nodding off
  • Neglecting appearance or hygiene, or sudden change in weight
  • Slurred speech and skin abrasions
  • Glassy or red eyes

The town hall will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 5 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Doors open at 5:00 p.m.  It will be held in the Kean University STEM Building Auditorium, 1075 Morris Avenue, in Union, NJ.

Speakers will include:

  • Union County Freeholder Christopher Hudak
  • Dr. Andrew Kaufman, Atlantic Health System
  • Pam Capaci, Executive Director, Prevention Links
  • Mariel Hufnagel, Executive Director, The Ammon Foundation

The town hall will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 5 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Doors open at 5:00 p.m.  It will be held in the Kean University STEM Building Auditorium, 1075 Morris Avenue, in Union, NJ.
 

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 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 that are available.

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