BERNARDSVILLE, NJ — Beginning last Friday, purple ribbons started appearing throughout the borough of Bernardsville.

The Community Hub building is awash in purple light to remember those lost to overdoses and to raise awareness for the prescription pill and heroin epidemic, which this year has been further compounded by the isolation, restrictions and mental health impact of COVID-19. 

Trees and lampposts throughout town are sporting a purple ribbon and Community in Crisis is offering purple light bulbs to those who wish to display the awareness color in their home windows or outdoors throughout the month of September.

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Community in Crisis on Monday night welcomed Mayor Mary Jane Canose, parents, families, community leaders and clergy to light their headquarters purple to mark International Overdose Awareness Day, which seeks to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and spread the message that overdose death is preventable.

 According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than half of individuals misusing prescription opioids bought, were given, or stole the prescription drugs from a friend or relative, often from the home medicine cabinet

In an effort to reduce the availability and potential abuse of prescription medications, Community in Crisis is making available packets of DisposeRx, a simple and effective at-home medication disposal solution designed to mitigate the risks associated with unused drugs in home medicine cabinets. 

Based on data from January to June 2020, Somerset County has already seen an 84 percent increase in overdose deaths compared to 2019. 

 Following International Overdose Awareness Day, September is National Recovery Month, designed to educate Americans on mental health and substance use disorders, in addition to celebrating the work of individuals in recovery and providing support to affected families and patients.