MILLBURN — The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is looking for volunteers throughout the state to help spread awareness of the dangers of prescription opioids and actions that can be taken to protect families and communities from addiction as part of the third annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day on Saturday, Oct. 6. 

In 2016 — the most recent year with complete data — more than 42,000 people in the United States and 2,000 people in New Jersey lost their lives from an opioid overdose. The final death total for 2017 is expected to be even higher, and New Jersey is on pace to have more than 3,000 drug overdose deaths in 2018.

Through this statewide single-day initiative, volunteers will spread the message about the potential for dependency on prescribed pain medicine and its link to heroin use rates in our state. The effort will involve a two-pronged approach: informing prescribers and raising awareness among New Jersey residents and families. 

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More than 5,000 volunteers participated in last year’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, distributing crucial information on safe prescribing practices to healthcare providers, as well as door hangers with information on the link between prescribed pain medications and heroin abuse throughout communities.        

Each county will have volunteer coordinators who can help interested volunteers obtain materials and help them plan their outreach. Volunteers will be asked to devote the amount of time they can give, whether it’s a few hours delivering door hanger tags to homes in their community or 20 minutes during their lunch break distributing materials in their office. Anyone can volunteer: school clubs, scouts, religious groups, businesses. Coordinators for each county can provide more information on how to get involved.

Residents interested in volunteering can sign up at drugfreenj.org/knockoutvolunteers. The website also includes a toolkit, which provides electronic methods for spreading the message of Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day.

Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day is a project of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, with help from thousands of volunteers across the state. 

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Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 173 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.