MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the League of Women Voters of the Morristown Area are teaming up to hold a special forum on the growing problem of opiate and heroin abuse in the nation, state and Morris County.
The forum, entitled, “A Community Conversation: Stemming the Rising Tide of Opioid Abuse,’’ will be held on Wednesday, May 25, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Alexander Hamilton School, at 24 Mills Street, Morristown.
It follows recent heroin and opiate sessions held in Montville and Hanover townships, and the recent Morris County Heroin Summit 2016 held in Rockaway Township.
“We need to understand how this problem affects every one of us,’’ said Louise Murray, Vice President of the League of Women Voters Morristown Area. “We need to come together as a community to protect ourselves and each other.’’
“It is essential that we, as a community, become informed about this epidemic and that law enforcement, the medical community, addiction treatment professionals and the community at large discuss this problem and work on solutions to enhance prevention and encourage drug treatment for the addicted,” said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric A. Knapp.
According to Morris County law enforcement officials, we are in the midst of a heroin and opiate epidemic, with no state hit harder than New Jersey. Overdose deaths are now the leading cause of accidental death, with more Americans dying every year from overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes.
Addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is the primary factor fueling heroin addiction.
“The county Freeholder Board strongly supports the continuing effort of the prosecutor and community groups, like the League of Women Voters, in Morris County to deal with substances that are plaguing our young people, and hurting their families and communities,’’ sad Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “We must attack this issue in Morris County with facts, knowledge and public awareness.’’
Healthcare professionals write 250 million opioid painkiller prescriptions annually. The availability and misuse of prescription opioids combined with the low cost, potent heroin that has become easily accessible, is driving an increased demand for and use of heroin and ultimately claiming the lives of thousands of Americans.
Admission into New Jersey licensed substance abuse facilities has increased dramatically. More people are seeking treatment for addiction than there are available slots at treatment facilities.
Neighborhoods are plagued with burglaries, thefts and violent crimes as heroin addicts commit these offenses to feed their habit. Morris County is not immune from these staggering statistics.
Heroin can be purchased cheaply and easily in Morris County, said Prosecutor Knapp. It’s inexpensive, available and very deadly, as evidenced by 43 people who died from heroin or opiate overdose in Morris County in 2015.
Panelists at the May 25 forum, to be moderated by Louise Murray, will include:
- Bradford C. Seabury – Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office
- Steven Timko – Executive Director, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA)
- Joseph F. Vitale – Senator, New Jersey State Senate Chair, Senate Health, Human Services& Senior Citizens Committee; Vice Chair, Senate Labor Committee
- Mae A. Hyre, M.D., D.M.D. – Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston, West Virginia