LITTLE EGG HARBOR TWP. — Ocean County experts will provide residents an in-depth look into the opioid epidemic ravaging the county and the state at a Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.

The town hall, which is open to the public free of charge, will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 17 at the Calvary Baptist Church, 850 Railroad Drive, Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08087.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. for dinner and registration. The event will be held in collaboration with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Calvary Baptist Church.

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“It is important that residents get involved in the conversation and participate in their local Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall to learn more about the disease of addiction, develop strategies to prevent substance use in their families and identify resources that can help people struggling with addiction,” said Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “No community is immune to the opioid epidemic, and only by coming together can we effectively explore solutions to address this crisis.”

The series, which began in 2017 and has been hosted in 17 counties thus far, focuses on the link between prescription opioid dependency and heroin use and examines the causes and possible solutions of the opioid crisis from several perspectives, including law enforcement, government, the medical community, prevention, treatment and recovery.

Ocean County has been greatly impacted by the opioid crisis. In 2016, 253 people died of drug overdoses in Ocean County, a majority of which involved heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids. That total represented the second-highest among New Jersey’s 21 counties.

“Government, health, community and law enforcement officials nationally today have a clear picture of the tragic depth of the opioid crisis. The fight to address it is a marathon – not a sprint, where all four entities must work together,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

“Law enforcement cannot solve this crisis alone. We must develop partnerships and build a new system from the ground up in order to make any real impact. Town hall events are critical in examining every element of the problem to find solutions and implement proactive measures to stop the unspeakable tragic loss of life. Each town hall provides valuable lessons from those living the nightmare.”   

Speakers will include:

  • Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato
  • Dr. Muhammad Abbas, Jersey Shore University Medical Center  
  • Pastor Mike Dellaperute, Calvary Baptist Church
  • Liza DeJesus, BS, Director of Prevention Services, Prevention First
  • Michael Capko, Manager – DART Coalition

A dedicated website,, includes the full schedule of countywide town hall meetings and registration information. also provides local, county and state substance abuse prevention and treatment resources available.