Education

Tackling the Growing Opioid Epidemic: Parent, Student Workshops Held in South Plainfield

c889f604d9fa3874988a_IMG_0117.jpg
Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski, Director of Guidance Sam Fierra, Jean Stevenson, and, from St. Peter's, Family Nurse Practitioner Marge Drozd and Director of Communications Phil Hartman. Credits: Victoria Caruso
33f54a5a8f7d0ba968b6_IMG_0119.jpg
South Plainfield High School Principal Ronnie Spring welcomes ninth and tenth graders and speakers to the Opioid Epidemic – A Perspective on Addiction workshop. Credits: Victoria Caruso
b96775ed285254f0c1a6_IMG_6402.JPG
Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski speaks to South Plainfield High School freshman and sophomores.
38308ae5f448cd65adb2_IMG_6414.JPG
Marge Drozd, family nurse practitioner for St. Peter's, discusses the things students can do to help a friend or loved one who may be using drugs.
9fa6da9a811ad2c899fd_IMG_6419.JPG
South Plainfield Assistant Principal Robert Richkus.
c889f604d9fa3874988a_IMG_0117.jpg

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – In an effort to education students about the dangers and fatal consequences surrounding heroine and opioids, special informational assemblies were held at South Plainfield Middle and High School this week.

The Opioid Epidemic – A Perspective on Addiction workshops were provided to the school district through a partnership with St. Peter’s University Hospital and local law enforcement. On Oct. 25, three sessions were held to accommodate students in 7th through 12th grade; an additional workshop for parents and guardians will be held next week.

“There were 781 overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2014. My daughter Barbara was one of them,” Spotswood mom Jean Stevenson told the auditorium filled with high school freshman and sophomores. Barbara, who growing up played clarinet in the band, was a Girl Scout, and loved cheerleading, was just 27 years old.

Sign Up for E-News

“I think of her every day. Our family is devastated by this loss,” said Stevenson after sharing a letter Barbara wrote to her during a period of sobriety. “I hope sharing Barbara’s story will help you.”

According to John Zebrowski, chief of the Sayreville Police Department, the opioid epidemic affects the ‘common, every day individual.’ “There are no stereotypes here…there is no one particular type of person that it inflicts,” Zebrowski said. “This issue, this crisis, this epidemic occurs at the high school level, it occurs at the middle school level, and it occurs at college and beyond…”

Popular opioids/opiates include Oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycnontin), Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), Oxymorphone (Opana), and heroin as well as Codeine, Morphine, Methadone, Demerol, Fentanyl, and Loperamide (Imodium). While these drugs have been used in the United States since the 1800s, experts state that over the last 20 years, misuse has increased significantly.

Every day, 175 people in the United States die from a drug overdose, explained Marge Drozd, RN, MSN, APRN-BC, family nurse practitioner for St. Peter’s. In New Jersey, she said, Middlesex County had the highest growth rate for heroin-associated deaths – with 15 in 2010 and 78 in 2014 for a 420-percent increase in four years. Additionally, over the past 14 years, overdose deaths in the United States nearly quadrupled from 8,407 (in 2000) to 33,091 (in 2014) and, in 2015, an overdose was the cause of 52,404 deaths – more than firearms or vehicle accidents.

“This is truly a crisis and we are expecting it to be declared a public health emergency by the president within the next week or so. These statistics are mind boggling,” said Drozd.

SPHS Assistant Principal Robert Richkus compared the 33,000-plus deaths to the attendance of two sold out shows at the Prudential Center. “You hear these numbers and they don’t make a lot of sense, but if you think about it that way it brings it a little closer to home,” said Richkus, boldly adding, “Six years ago, you were all at a K-4 school going to carnival day. Six years from now, your classmates are dying from these addictions…”

According to Drozd, the opioid epidemic is ‘an American problem that does not extend to the rest of the world.’ She told the students that our country’s medical professionals have a tendency to ‘overprescribe’ and, in return, drugs are being ‘misused’ and being taken for recreational purposes rather than medical reasons.

“Addiction can develop within just five days and, if not taken properly, one wrong dose can lead to death,” Drozd said. “No one is immune.”

Chief Zebrowski urged the students to speak up if they know of a family member or friend in need and explained how, under the 2013 Overdose Prevention Act, witnesses and victims of drug overdoses are encouraged to seek medical assistance without legal consequences. He also discussed how Narcan, a drug used to reverse the affects of an overdose, is now available over the counter.

“We are open and receptive to helping and providing the treatment that is necessary as opposed to simply just providing enforcement,” Zebrowski said. “If you know someone who may be using drugs, who may be using opioids or heroine, you can get them help without repercussions…Make that phone call; that person is not going to go to jail, they are going to get help.”

South Plainfield High School Principal Ronnie Spring also urged the students to come to him, their teachers, guidance counselors, or the school’s resource officer Mike Sikanowicz if they or someone they know has a problem. We are all here for you and our doors are always open to you and here to help,” said Spring. “Please come to us.”

Following one of the workshops, TAPinto South Plainfield had the opportunity to speak with some SPHS students and get their take on the program and the problem.

“This is becoming a really big problem in New Jersey; those numbers are astonishing and it’s happening all around us,” SPHS junior SPHS junior Dylan Silverstein told TAPinto South Plainfield, adding that he was personally prescribed Percocet following shoulder surgery earlier this year. “I only took them for a couple of days but I could totally see how people would take more than what they need to and how doctors over prescribe,” he said.

Patrick Joyner, a SPHS sophomore, added, “We have been told all our lives not to do drugs, that they are bad and we can die, and everyone knows the results but yet it’s still going on because people think ‘oh that will never happen to me.’ I believe we need more of an understanding and realization of what is going on.”

“This is a pretty widespread problem and there’s no stereotype so you may not always know who is or isn’t doing it,” said SPHS senior Dania Mohtadi, noting that most recently, a friend of a friend’s overdose was posted on social media. “We see it happening around us in real life. Even though it may not effect me directly, it effects the people around me and that all ties in together.”

For parents and guardians, there will be an Opioid Epidemic – A Perspective on Addiction workshop on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6-8 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“The South Plainfield School District is honored to partner with St. Peter’s University Hospital and local law enforcement to educate our students and parents on the importance of the effects of opioids on our youth, families, and communities. By providing our community with information on the effects and consequences of using opioids, we may deter our youth from ever experimenting,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak told TAPinto South Plainfield. “This is an epidemic in our state that needs to be addressed through education.”

TAPinto South Plainfield is South Plainfield’s only free daily paper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthPlainfieldTAP/ and on Twitter at @SoplainfieldTAP.

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Alejandro Garcia Boys’ Spring Track

The South Plainfield Boys’ Spring Track has continued to be one of the most successful programs for the Spring Athletic Season.  The Boys’ have been dominate in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division for the last few years.  After being decimated by graduation, the Tigers were not sure what the season would hold.  South Plainfield once again won the Blue ...

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Obituaries

Glenn Lucas passed away suddenly on the evening of May 21st 2018.  Glenn was born on July 8th ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Tree Olano Says "Thank You"

May 23, 2018

The infamous “Senior Gardens” is a huge part of the senior center .  The vegetables are all planted and ready for a fruitful harvest!

I wanted to extend a “thank you” the following people who made this happen:

The  Department of Public Works – Kristina Nieradka for taking my many calls with kindness and professionalism; Donna Zereconski, ...

Middlesex County College Graduates 1480 Students May 17

May 22, 2018

EDISON, NJ - A total of 1514 degrees and certificates were awarded to 1480 students by Middlesex County College Thursday, May 17 at the 51st annual Commencement exercises witnessed by approximately 3500 guests at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Valedictorian Sindhu Murthy (Highland Park) delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Ms. Murthy, who graduated in January and ...

Community Happenings

JOHN E. RILEY’S 1ST ANNUAL FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!

 

Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

May 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

Memorial Day Services ­Announced

May 22, 2018

The South Plainfield Memorial Day Services, hosted by the American Legion Post #243  and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post #6763  will be held on Monday, May 28.  It will commence at the American Legion Post 243 at 9:00 a.m.  The procession will start with the tradition of wreath laying  at 10 a.m. in Monument Park.( Attendees may park in Veterans Memorial ...

Road Projects - Closures

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -  Road resurfacing continues on Joan Street between South Plainfield Avenue and Maple Avenue plus Michael Street.  Roadways are closed to local traffic only.  This information was sent via Nixle Alert.

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_7a110ba1b1a66408e129_mini_magick20180522-67475-1v887d3

Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Memorial Day Services ­Announced

Wed, May 30, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield

Town-Wide Girl Scout Registration

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_760c3a884873d7076167_jim_peck

Sun, June 3, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Public Library presents ...

Carousel_image_ef935b6a75011efff62d_origami_craft_flyer-page-001

Thu, June 7, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Origami Craft Night at the South Plainfield ...

Columns

Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.

 

“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

Bookmarks

The South Plainfield Public Library will be closed this Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28 due to Memorial Day.  Because of the holiday, there will be no movie showing this week on Monday evening or Wednesday afternoon.  Monday Night Movies will resume the week of June 4, with a newly released selection.

This Saturday, May 26, the library is hosting a Mario Kart Tournament: Blindfold ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Press Releases

Pinkin Resolution to Raise Awareness of Gun Violence passes Assembly

May 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ - Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Angela McKnight and Nancy Pinkin resolution to raise awareness of gun violence was voted out of the Assembly 67-0 on Thursday.
            The measure (AJR-100) designates June 2 of each year as “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in New Jersey in order to promote ...