Category Archives: Community

Binge Drinking in New Jersey

Tobacco use has gone down in New Jersey in the past years, but binge drinking for age 12 and up, has steadily increased. Though it’s not a significant increase, it is still on the rise. Check out this graph that shows the dangers of drug use in New Jersey on dependence.

Treatment Admissions in Morris County

Did you know that in New Jersey, in 2016, there were 91  admissions to treatment for alcohol related reasons for people under 18? And in Morris County, there were 6 alcohol treatment admissions for those under 18. Though 6 may not seem like a high number, that means that not only were people under age drinking, but drinking to the point of needing detox or alcohol use treatment. Over the past year, the alcohol admissions have declined, but drug admissions have gone up. In 2015, there were 54 drug related admissions in Morris County, which in one year, went up to 88 drug related admissions.

As the perception of risk continues to be lowered, the rate of use continues to go up.

Population Health Summit: A review

Yesterday, June 5th, 2018, was the 3rd Annual Population Health Summit in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The topic was focusing in on utilizing an integrated approach to address the opioid epidemic/crisis. In 2016, there were a total of 64,070 fatal overdoses in the United States, 2,200 of those being in New Jersey, 35 in Morris County. Though the number of overdoses in on the rise, there has been little action to limit the number of prescribing doctors. In New Jersey, we have 1,332 licensed prescribers but only 38 Medication Assistance Treatment (MAT). These numbers do not make sense. New Jersey increases the number of those able to prescribe, yet does not increase the number of treatment facilities that use prescriptions.

Dr. Nash, key note speaker, stated that we need to “shut off the faucet instead of mopping up the mess.” It is important to provide the prevention measures so that we can cut the opioid epidemic off at the source, and prevent people from even starting to use drugs. Dr. Nash also noted that 50% of all opioid users are unemployed and 25% are permanently disabled. This shows that the opioid epidemic needs to be looked at from the very beginning. If we provide resources from the beginning, keeping people healthy all around, it could limit the amount of people getting involved in drugs. Furthermore, it is important to address the institutional racism that has caused minorities and lower income persons to be pushed further and further away from medical care access.

The key component of the summit was to note that prevention and intervention is not a one person job. It is important for the law makers, family services, treatment centers, insurance companies, and caregivers to work together. Addressing the epidemic is a team sport, and is something that influences the entire population.

Age 21 Drinking Law Reduces Alcohol-Related Deaths

Contributed by: Community Coalition for Safe and Healthy Morris

Although some want to lower the legal drinking age from 21, research continues to show that the law saves lives. In a supplemental issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers found that the age 21 and over alcohol laws are associated with lower rates of drunk-driving crashes among young people. And it seems they also curb other hazards of heavy drinking—including suicide, dating violence and unprotected sex. “The evidence is clear that there would be consequences if we lowered the legal drinking age,” said lead researcher William DeJong, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Public Health.

The U.S. legal drinking age has had a winding history. In the early 1970s, 29 states lowered their legal drinking age to 18, 19 or 20. But after a rise in drunk-driving crashes among young people, many states began to reverse the trend. A change in federal law eventually pushed all states to adopt a minimum drinking age of 21 by 1988. In recent years however, the benefits of the age-21 law have been challenged.

In 2006, a non-profit called Choose Responsibility started campaigning for a change in the federal law. Two years later, a group of more than 100 U.S. university presidents and chancellors known as the Amethyst Initiative called for a re-evaluation of the legal drinking age—citing a “clandestine” culture of heavy drinking episodes among college students as one reason that the age-21 law is not working. Those moves grabbed a lot of media attention, and public health experts responded by launching new studies into the impact of the drinking-age law. Based on DeJong’s review, that research supports what earlier work had shown: Since the legal drinking age was set at 21, young people have been drinking less and are less likely to get into drunk-driving crashes.

In one study, researchers found that in 2011, 36 percent of college students said in the past two weeks they’d engaged in heavy episodic drinking (five or more drinks in a sitting, sometimes called “binge” drinking). That compared with 43 percent of students in 1988, the first year that all U.S. states had an age-21 law. There was an even bigger decline among high school seniors—from 35 percent to 22 percent.