Category Archives: drugs

Opioid Use in Morris County: January to June

Opioid use in Morris County, and New Jersey has been on the rise in recent times. In Morris County, there have been 53 suspected drug related deaths, as of January 1st. Though this is a 5% improvement from last year, as there were 56 drug related deaths by end of June, this is not a significant difference. It brings about the question of what can we be doing differently vs what are we doing the same?

As of January 1st of this year, there have been over 212,000 opioid prescriptions. Comparatively, in all of 2017, there were 231,400 prescriptions, which was about 10,000 less than 2016. We are moving in the right direction, but at a slow pace. Though decreasing prescriptions does help to decrease the risk of opioid related overdoses, it is important to understand the risks of misusing and abusing opioids. Roughly 27% of people who are prescribed opioids misuse them. 86% of young people who use heroin have used prescription opioids prior. Of those who use opioids, 4-6% use heroin, after.

The risk is there. Being knowledgeable about the risks helps to build protective factors and decrease the fatalities.

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.

Sheriff Heralds First Anniversary of “Hope One” — County Announces Launch of “Navigating Hope”

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon’s groundbreaking Hope One program that offers critical in-the-field support for persons struggling with addiction, celebrated its first birthday yesterday on the rain-soaked Morristown Green with the unveiling by Morris County of  its new “Navigating Hope’’ mobile human services operation.

Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri announces the launch of Navigating Hope as Sheriff James. M. Gannon looks on

Navigating Hope will work in concert with the Sheriff’s Hope One unit, with both fully staffed mobile vehicles traveling together across Morris County to deliver vital services to residents most in need of assistance.

“Hope One’s impact on the addiction and mental health communities in Morris County has been tremendous,’’ said Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri. “Now, the county is going to expand upon the great work being done by the Sheriff and his Hope One team.’’

Hope One travels twice a week to locations throughout Morris County, bringing services to persons in need. A sheriff’s officer, licensed clinician, and a certified peer recovery specialist – who understand the needs of those suffering with addiction — staff the vehicle.

Their goal is to prevent drug overdoses and deaths by reaching out to those in need, rather than wait for them to show up in a hospital emergency room.

In the first year of operation, Hope One has compiled some amazing statistics, with nearly 3,000 residents in need visiting the Hope One mobile unit and nearly 850 county residents receiving life-saving Narcan training to be employed in emergencies.

Hope One’s many stops have included supermarket shopping centers from Chatham to Kinnelon, libraries from Rockaway to Whippany, the Morristown Green, a Dover church, and even the Rockaway Townsquare mall, among many locations.