Category Archives: Community

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.

Law Enforcement Training; Stigma: Language Matters (Follow-up)

By: Sarah Keir
May 14, 2018

Stigma: Language Matters was an event sponsored by the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris (CCSHM) that emphasized the importance of language, especially in law enforcement. This event encouraged law enforcement and other attendees to break the cycle of stigma by recognizing that language can quickly become internalized, which can negatively influence the behaviors of people. A significant part of this event was doing a role playing skit, where one person played a civilian and the other was a police officer. In the first skit, the officer did not ask questions effectively, and tension, along with volume rose, showing that not finding out the whole truth continues the stigma and does not get anyone anywhere. The second skit showed an officer asking questions and understanding the full situation, then using effective speaking skills to resolve the issue. After the event, the Chief of Police of Boonton Township stated how influential it would be to bring the role playing of this event to the recruits in the police academy, so they can truly see the importance of empathizing with people and asking questions before assuming the worse in someone.

Another important language stigma that was mentioned was about marijuana. Often, people say “It’s just pot” or “It’s going to be legalized anyway”, which also creates a stigma cycle. By having this mindset, it lowers the perception of risk of marijuana. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just marijuana. Recently, there has been a large trend of dealers lacing marijuana with cocaine and opiates to create the same addictive traits.


Overall, this event had a great turnout and CCSHM looks forward to working with the community and law enforcement to sponsor more of these events.

Healthy Communities E-Newsletter


CDC Report: Emergency Departments Inundated with Opioid Overdoses
The heroin epidemic shows no signs of letting up, as evidenced by a rapid increase in the number of opioid overdoses being treated in emergency departments (EDs) across the nation, according to CDC data. The report revealed that ED visits due to overdose increased 30 percent overall last year. The increases were widespread, but varied by state, with rural/urban differences. “This fast-moving epidemic affects both men and women, and people of every age,” said CDC acting director Anne Schuchat. “It does not respect state or county lines and is still increasing in every region in the United States.”
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