New Jersey Volunteers to Spread Awareness of Opioid Epidemic in Statewide Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day


WHAT: On October 6, New Jersey volunteers will spearhead an effort to raise awareness of the opioid abuse epidemic impacting the state in the second annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day.
The statewide single-day initiative will mobilize legislators, community leaders, concerned citizens, impacted families, students and substance abuse professionals to distribute vital information about the risks of dependency on prescribed pain medicine and the link to heroin abuse. The effort will concentrate on a two-pronged approach: informing physicians and raising awareness among New Jersey residents and families.
Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day is a project of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, with help from thousands of volunteers across the state.
More than 2,000 volunteers participated in last year’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, distributing crucial information on safe prescribing practices to physicians and dentists, as well opioid abuse prevention messages throughout communities. The New Jersey Senate and General Assembly responded following the first event in 2016 by unanimously approving joint legislation designating October 6 in perpetuity as Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day in New Jersey.
HOW: Teams of volunteers across the state will visit physician and dental offices in their community, equipped with information including a door hanger public service announcement and a copy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing. Focus will be placed on the following action steps:
  • Encouraging prescribers to discuss the dangers of opioids when they are prescribed, including the risk of dependency and possible alternatives that might exist
  • Sharing copies of the CDC prescribing guidelines to each prescriber visited and encouraging prescribers to follow the guidelines
  • Providing information on local organizations and resources focusing on the opioid abuse epidemic for physicians to share with their patients

Teams of volunteers also will be mobilized to place door hangers on the front doors of homes in their communities. These signs will contain an opioid abuse prevention public service announcement with information on the link between prescribed opioids and heroin abuse.
Many communities also have planned other related events, including a songwriting competition and concert, awareness walks and a 5k race.
WHY: An estimated 2,000 people in New Jersey died of an opioid overdose during 2016, and an average of 144 people in the United States die daily from opioid overdoses.
Enough painkillers are prescribed to medicate every American around-the-clock for a month, and nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, October 6, 2017
WHERE: In communities throughout New Jersey. Contact Matt Birchenough at media@drugfreenj.org or 201-916-1032 for information on events occurring in your coverage area.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit drugfreenj.org/knockoutvolunteers. Interview and photo opportunities with volunteers mobilized throughout communities can be arranged.