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.

Attorney General Grewal and Partners Announce Results of Five-County Collaboration to Fight Opioid Addiction in “Operation Helping Hand”

PARAMUS, N.J. – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced the results of an innovative five-county collaboration involving law enforcement, county government, and addiction service agencies to connect individuals suffering from the disease of addiction with vital recovery services through “Operation Helping Hand.”

Attorney General Grewal made the announcement at New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, where he was joined by Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III, New Bridge President and CEO Deborah Visconi, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch, Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan, and many other leaders and members of law enforcement, government, and the nonprofit and service-provider community.

Attorney General Grewal developed Operation Helping Hand as a new way to combat the heroin and opioid crisis in Bergen County while serving as county prosecutor.  Encouraged by its success there, he is implementing a plan to expand Operation Helping Hand throughout New Jersey.  The strategy involves law enforcement officers arresting users purchasing heroin – or, in some cases, other narcotics – at open-air drug markets.  When the users are brought to the police station or prosecutor’s office for processing on narcotics possession charges, recovery specialists are waiting to connect them with treatment and recovery services.  The charges are not dropped if the user accepts help, but every effort is made to place him or her on the path to recovery.

A total of 177 users were arrested in Operation Helping Hand from June 11 through 15 by law enforcement officers from Bergen, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Union counties.  Of those 177 people, a total of 148 – or five out of every six users arrested – accepted the offer of treatment or recovery support services.  Only 29 rejected the offer of help.  There were three additional “walk-ins” who were not arrested, but who were offered and accepted help after they learned of the program.  Of the 151 who accepted help, including the walk-ins, a total of 102 accepted treatment – meaning in-patient detox, or in-patient treatment, or intensive outpatient treatment, or medically assisted treatment, or a combination thereof – and the other 49 accepted other recovery support services.  Union County arrested 100 users, with 81 accepting help.  The four northern counties arrested 77 users, with 67 accepting help.

The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Songwriters Scholarship Contest

July 20, 2018 – Rockaway, NJ

LIFE Center Stage, The Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris, Morris County Stigma-Free and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey are looking for songwriters to use the power of music to engage the community in this much needed call to action to Knock Out Opioid Abuse.

The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Songwriters Scholarship Contest was developed to help raise awareness of the opioid epidemic that has adversely impacted far too many lives.

They are inviting musicians who are truly passionate about the cause, making a difference with their music or have had this epidemic affect them, their family, friends, co-workers or classmates to submit a song – lyrics and/or musical composition.

Entrants do not have to personally be in recovery to enter.

6 Winners will be chosen to receive:

• Scholarship for a 4-week Anthem Songwriting Workshop taught by hit #1 hit songwriter, Lorraine Ferro on August 7 & 21, September 4 & 18, from 7 – 10pm at Rest Stop Rejuvenate 21 Maple Ave. Rockaway, NJ.

  • Two hours of Private Coaching with Lorraine Ferro.
  • Performance of their collaborative anthem songs at The Knockout Opioid Abuse Concert on October 4.

At the concert, 1 Grand Prize Winner will be chosen to:


  • Record their anthem song in a professional studio
  • $500 Prize

To Enter:  Visit LifeCenterStage.org/KOOA-Contest to submit a link to a video of yourself performing your original song, lyrics or musical composition. As well as your personal story (4 minutes max) focused on how this opioid epidemic has affected and impacted your life or why you are passionate about this cause.

The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2018 at 11:59PM EST. This contest is open to all Morris County residents, age 13 and up. Read the Official Contest Rules on LifeCenterStage.org

Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day is the statewide single-day initiative that will mobilize the prevention and treatment communities, community leaders and concerned citizens to raise awareness of the potential for dependency on prescribed pain medicine and its link to heroin abuse rates in our state. Teams of volunteers across the state will visit physician and dental offices, as well as homes in local communities, to distribute this vital information.