Breaking the Opioid Epidemic in New Jersey
Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, discusses the opioid epidemic in New Jersey. He also shares the important partnership with the Horizon Foundation in the production of town hall gatherings geared toward helping those struggling with addiction and breaking the stigma of addiction.
"State of Affairs welcomes back our good friend Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. Good to see you Ang. Good to see you Steve. Lots of attention in New Jersey and across the nation on this epidemic, this opioid epidemic. Yes. Where are we today? Well I think we have made tremendous progress. Especially in New Jersey. We have laws now in place that really are there to help protect the residents of New Jersey, especially our young people, who are being impacted. But we still have a long way to go. We still have about a third of parents, in a recent study, that didn't understand the links between prescription drugs and heroin abuse. We have the medical community that are certainly becoming more aware of the role that they play in this. And also we have a situation where we need to just alert the general public about their role. Protecting their own children. Safeguarding their homes. And also becoming aware that they have a right, and they have also the ability, to be involved when a decision's being made as to whether or not to use opiates, or be prescribed opiates, for themselves or their children. So public awareness is a huge huge part of this ongoing effort? We've worked with the partnership for years, and collaborated, and public awareness. We... I've done the workshop seminars... Yes. ...forums. And together with you and your colleagues. But you're also starting a series of town meetings, are you not? Yes. Across the state? Was it in South Jersey you got started? Yes. Actually we started our first one in Atlantic County. And we have a series... Was it last night? It was last night actually. And we have a series of seventeen town hall meetings scheduled for every region in New Jersey. It's in partnership with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. And we're teaming up for two main reasons. One is to be able to share information. To be able to bring to the general public information about new research, information that shows that, for example, children who are prescribed opiates prior to high school graduation are 33 percent more likely to become addicted. But it's also an opportunity to learn. To find out what's happening at the local level. To see if there's any excellent programs that we can use as model programs for the state. And last night's event was really a great example of that. We learned about the lack of recovery coaches that existed in Atlantic County. What does that mean? A recovery coach is an individual, in many cases who have..."