Thousands of people will mobilize on foot in communities and neighborhoods across the state Friday to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids and the addiction epidemic.
The second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, organized by Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, will have legislators, community leaders, residents, impacted families, students, substance abuse experts and others distributing information on the risks of prescribed pain medications and the links to heroin abuse.
“We need to educate all residents and all prescribers with the most current research and protocols that, if implemented, will save lives and protect families,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the drug-free organization.
Organizers said they expect about 2,000 volunteers to participate and distribute thousands of opioid misuse prevention messages by hanging door hangers on homes and handing out fliers to passersby.
Volunteers also will visit physician and dental offices and pharmacies to talk with health care professionals about prescribing opioids and pain medications.
“Pharmacy owners play a central role in the health and wellbeing of their customers, and their expertise and involvement in this initiative will provide a significant benefit to the residents of New Jersey,” Valente said.
The event is put on in collaboration with Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the state Department of Human Services.
Drug-related overdose deaths are on the rise, experts say, and estimate that the final 2016 numbers are higher than the previous year’s death toll of 1,587 people. The majority of those who died had taken heroin and/or prescription opioids.
Some communities have additional events planned for Friday. A candlelight ceremony and gathering will take place 6 p.m. at Bridgeton City Hall, 181 E. Commerce St. Officials will light the City Hall Annex purple in honor of the estimated 142 people who die each day from opioid addiction.
Knock Out Opioid Abuse #RecoveryIsPossible t-shirts will be on sale for a $5 donation and there will be light refreshments.
The Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition, a community initiative of Cape Assist, is coordinating outreach efforts throughout the county. Coalition members and volunteers will deliver informational cards to several locations, including pharmacies, chiropractors, pizzerias, businesses and more.
Cape Regional Medical Center will insert the cards with information on prescription drop boxes to patients at the hospital.
For Cape May volunteer opportunities with Cape Assist, call 609-522-5960 or email Natalia@capeassist.org.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties, go to drugfreenj.org/knockoutvolunteers/ or call 973-467-2100.
Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard
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