Fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic

More than 33,000 Americans, about 91 a day, died from opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Morris County is hardly immune from the growing epidemic as fatal opiate overdoses in the county rose from 43 in 2015 to 64 in 2016. This year, there have been at least 23 overdoses in less than four months, which is a pace that would exceed last year’s total.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp is determined to raise awareness of the opioid and heroin epidemic and how to stop it by participating in ongoing public programs.

“By raising public consciousness of this heroin-opioid epidemic, it is our hope to stem the tide of addiction and related deaths,” Knapp said.

Held in conjunction with municipal police departments and local anti-drug groups, the symposiums are designed to highlight the devastating impact heroin and prescription opiates can have on families and communities.

The programs are presented by Knapp and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Bradford Seabury, head of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Operations Division. Assistant Prosecutor Seabury details the latest national and local statistics and delves into how illicit drugs are distributed and sold in the United States. He also describes how addiction can start and ways to combat it. The numbers are sobering. The United States has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but consumes approximately 80 percent of the world’s opioids. The presentations are valuable for both students and their parents.

The proactive approach of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office coincides with state efforts to combat opioid addiction.

A law signed earlier this year by Gov. Chris Christie limits physicians to providing first time patients with only a five-day supply of opioid prescriptions. The limit is significant, because experts say addiction often begins when patients are proscribed far more opiates for pain than they need.

Upcoming programs and their local sponsors follow. All programs start at 7 p.m. and include a question and answer segment.

Tuesday, April 25:
Montville Township High School (local sponsors are township Police Department and township Drug Awareness Council)
Wednesday, April 26:
Roxbury Township High School (local sponsors are township Police Department, the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris and Morris CARES).
Wednesday May 3
Dover High School (local sponsors are Dover Police, Dover High School, the Excel Treatment Center, The Milestone House of Recovery and Morris CARES)
Wednesday, May 10
Kinnelon High School (Local sponsors are borough Police Department, the Kinnelon Municipal Alliance and the high school.

For additional information, please contact Public Information Officer Fred Snowflack at [email protected] or (973) 829-8159.