New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, in collaboration with The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, is introducing a new initiative designed to encourage and support parents in having meaningful and effective conversations with their children to prevent drug use.
Launching in November, this effort will include information regarding substance abuse, tools such as conversation starters, and resources where families may obtain additional information and counsel. Materials will be available at YMCAs throughout New Jersey, and on the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance website.
As a charitable organization, the Y is focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Supporting parents and the community in their efforts to raise healthy, confident, connected children is core to the Y’s mission to help all people grow in spirit, mind and body.
In New Jersey, high rates of opioid addiction have claimed an estimated 5,000 lives in the past decade, with more people dying in New Jersey in 2016 from drug overdoses than from guns, car accidents and suicides, combined. According to the Office of the State Medical Examiner of New Jersey, there were between 2,090 and 2,250 drug-related deaths overall in New Jersey in 2016, up from 1,587 in 2015.
New Jersey also has the sixth highest rate in the nation of visits to the emergency room due to opioid abuse. And naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, has been administered more than 25,000 times in New Jersey since 2014.
“The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has always encouraged communication between children and their parents and caregivers because it is the most effective way to prevent substance misuse and abuse. With the epidemic levels of opioid abuse impacting our state, the time is now to educate and raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the potential for dependency of prescribed medicine, as well as trends of substances that are abused,” said Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “Communication between parents and their children is crucial if we are to make inroads in preventing this epidemic and stemming substance misuse in our state.”
Early in 2017, the New Jersey Legislature passed a joint resolution that was signed into law, designating a Night of Conversation in November of each year. The purpose of the law is to create awareness about substance use and to help families initiate conversations about drug and alcohol addiction. While the Night of Conversation helps to bring this issue to the forefront of parents’ consciousness, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey wanted to do more, to not only start the conversation, but sustain it throughout the year.
“The path from drug use to drug addiction can be quick and intense. Parents need to address it head on with their children. Prevention is not passive. It is an active, earnest undertaking and it starts early and requires regular reinforcement,” said David M. Carcieri, president of New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. “We’ve seen the devastating impact of addiction on families in the communities we serve throughout New Jersey. We believe we can help and we see this role as supporter and community convener as a perfect fit with our mission.”
The plan is multi-phased, with the goal of providing additional assets in the form of print, video and social media materials to make accessible effective resources for families.
“We all know that one person can make a big difference in the lives of children and no one has more of an impact than a parent,” said Jonathan R. Pearson, executive director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate and that’s why every parent needs to educate and empower their kids by talking to them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. A parent’s love, support and guidance is critical to putting a child on a lifelong path to success, health and happiness.”
For more information about the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, or about this drug prevention initiative, visitwww.njymca.org/drugprevention.