Town Hall Meeting To Focus On Opioid Crisis

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TOMS RIVER — A forum for county residents to hear local experts discuss the impact of the opioid crisis and solutions will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wed. Sept. 25 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St.

 The event is part of a series of forums called “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall”, being sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ).

  The Toms River Town Hall is being held in collaboration with Hope Sheds Light and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.   Doors will open at 10 a.m. and the event is expected to conclude by 12:30 p.m.

Attendees will be able to learn about the nature of the opioid crisis in the township and surrounding areas and what actions are being taken to address it.

  Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer will headline a panel of experts who will discuss the impact of the opioid epidemic on the Toms River community.   

  PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said, “the opioid epidemic is a multifaceted issue that requires a dynamic approach in which parents, community leaders, medical professionals, law enforcement, and other members of our community must work together and develop ways to resolve this public health crisis.”

  “There are no easy answers for solving the opioid epidemic, but together we can make a difference in this important fight.” Valente added.

   Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, through its philanthropic arm, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, is collaborating with PDFNJ on a new two-year Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative to address the opioid epidemic through community outreach, prescriber education, parent education and a statewide awareness campaign. 

  The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series brings experts on the opioid epidemic from various fields, including law enforcement, the medical community, government, prevention, treatment and recovery together for events in communities in all 21 New Jersey counties throughout 2019 and 2020.

  “Horizon looks forward to continuing the statewide conversation on how to combat the larger opioid epidemic and applying what we learned from the first round of town halls to actionable steps that connect people to localized services and solutions,” Jonathan R. Pearson, executive director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey said.

  Pearson added that “in addition, town halls will be streamed live on a new website so that anyone can attend and experience the discussion.”    

  Residents can visit to register to attend town halls, submit questions for panelists prior to the events, and share their personal stories of how they have been affected by the opioid epidemic.

  The website also features information on scheduled town halls, videos from each event and a look into the lives of state residents who have been affected by the opioid epidemic. It also includes an online continuing medical education program for prescribers and information on parent education through the 5th Grade Parent Alert.

  Last year, Ocean County’s 217 drug overdose deaths — most of which involved some form of opioid — ranked fourth among New Jersey’s 21 counties, according the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Law enforcement officers administered the overdose antidote, naloxone, 811 times that same year.

  For information on the Toms River Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall or to see a list of other upcoming town halls, visit