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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Community Partners Raise Awareness to Knock Out Opioid Abuse

Bella Maschio

By Erin Ledwon

RIO GRANDE – Members of organizations and government entities joined thousands across the state talking to residents outside local businesses during the second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Oct. 6.
Their goal was to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic impacting the state and to educate people about what they can do to help reduce substance abuse.
Handing out informational cards outside ShopRite and Joe Canals in Rio Grande were representatives from Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition, a community initiative of Cape Assist, Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, and Middle Township Police Department.
Natalia Wilber, coordinator for Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition, explained the information being disseminated targeted parents, grandparents, and caregivers.
“Half of the people get meds from family, spouses without people knowing,” said Wilber. She explained the importance of monitoring prescriptions, securing medicine cabinets, disposing of unwanted medication and knowing locations of drop boxes, which are available at capeassist.org, or healthycommunitycoalition.org, or by calling 609-522-5960.
According to Lt. Joseph Landis of the County Prosecutor’s Office many who abuse prescription medication transition to heroin.
“Instead of just tossing them in jail, we follow up to make sure they get the help they need. We steer them to Cape Assist and Cape Counseling, and we can get them into drug court. It’s not easy, but it’s an alternative to sitting in a jail cell.”
Landis leads the ‘Pills to Heroin’ program, which educates students and others about drug addiction and its impacts.
Both Landis and Wilber praised the coming together of community partners to come up with strategies to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic.
“It’s a multi-layer approach,” said Wilber. “We get different perspectives to see what parents, children, law enforcement, school counselors, and businesses think. We build a bond and a trust level.”
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 thousands of volunteers across the state, according to a release.
Those who would like additional information can visit caresnj.org, drugfreenj.org, knowaddiction.com, njhelps.org, or contact NJ Addiction Services Hotline at 1-844-276-2777.

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