Sussex County residents focus on solutions to opioid epidemic


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  • From left, Rachel Wallace, Aaron Kucharski, Annmarie Shafer, Steven Oroho, Francis Koch and Anthony Brutico spoke at the forum on opioid abuse.



A standing-room-only crowd of Sussex County residents packed The Center for Prevention & Counseling on Sept. 22 to join the conversation on the opioid epidemic gripping New Jersey at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall.

Audience members and a panel of experts from various fields related to the opioid epidemic exchanged dialogue on the causes of the issue, as well as steps that can be taken to address it in Sussex County and throughout the state.

The panel included Dr. Anthony Brutico, Emergency Department medical director at Newton Medical Center; State Sen. Steven V. Oroho; Rachel Wallace, director of Clinical Services at The Center for Prevention & Counseling; Aaron Kucharski, advocacy coordinator with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey; and Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch.

In 2016, 36 people in Sussex County died from overdoses of heroin, prescription medications and other drugs. Law enforcement also administered naloxone in response to 52 overdoses. Those figures increased from 25 overdose deaths and 44 administrations of naloxone in 2015.

The program was part of a series organized with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey that focuses on the link between prescription drug dependency and heroin abuse. The event was co-sponsored by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, The Center for Prevention & Counseling, NCADD–NJ, Atlantic Health System and the Coalition for Healthy & Safe Communities.

“We are committed to collaborating with thought leaders like the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey to address our state’s opioid issue and to support the health and safety of New Jersey residents through public awareness, education and identification and dissemination of best practices to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Florence Kariuki, Clinical Design Liaison for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

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