Opioid Use and a Pandemic – Perfect Storm for Community Set Back
COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of feelings of isolation, desperation and anxiety among people from all walks of life. At the Family Guidance Center of Warren County, we are aware of the problem and the multifaceted causes of increased use. You may have seen our agency’s billboards in the community that shine a spotlight on this issue. “The Partnership for Success” grant has given the Family Guidance Center the ability to place two large billboards in the community, but we do not want to stop there. We want to make sure that the community has a place to turn if they or someone they love is in need of recovery services.
Opioid use does not just affect the individual; it has an impact on the whole community. So let’s make community recovery our mission. When you think about the impact that one life lost can have on a community and then multiply that void, that is the level of loss the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid epidemic will continue to create unless we come together and remove barriers. Opioid abuse does not discriminate; often the path starts with an injury where narcotics are prescribed. The barriers to people getting help are stigma, shame, denial and lack of resources. As a community, we can do better in supporting those with substance use tendencies—making community recovery the goal. No shame, no stigma—just unwavering support. We can break the stigma of substance use together.
Today’s young adults face constant stressors and pressures—from school, peers and families. If the pressure is too much, harm can occur. The Family Guidance Center’s Crisis team stands ready to provide immediate assistance and resources to children, teens, adults and senior citizens throughout Warren County who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Our Crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll speak to a trained counselor whenever you call—never an answering service. We stand ready to give you or a loved one the help and hope you may need. Call (908) 454-5141.
On January 14, 2020, the Institute for Prevention and Treatment launched its first-ever continuing education course in psychopharmacology at Warren County Community College in Washington, N.J. Led by Dr. Raymond Mero, D.O., a staff psychiatrist of the Family Guidance Center of Warren County, the course presented a comprehensive review of the fundamentals of psychopharmacology and practical information on the benefits, side effects and common drug interactions. Dr. Mero also addressed the several classes of psychopharmacology for the various psychiatric categories of illness, including anxiety, affective disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
31 participants attended this conference from throughout the region, including the Family Guidance Center of Warren County, the Warren County Department of Human Services, a private practice, Catholic Charities and Merck & Co. All participants received 4 CEUs at the completion of the conference.
A second course on psychopharmacology will be offered in May, and the Institute is planning to present a seven-hour course on crisis intervention in the coming months. Visit the the Institute for Prevention and Treatment website for complete information and to register for conferences as they become available!
On January 8, 2020, the Family Guidance Center of Warren County’s Washington office was honored to welcome New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and other top state officials for a panel discussion on the Murphy administration’s plan to combat the opioid crisis. Click on the video to view the entire presentation detailing current statistics and hear the collaborative efforts state agencies are implementing to tackle this issue, which affects individuals and families right here in Warren County.
Governor Murphy announced preliminary 2019 year-end opioid statistics for New Jersey and reaffirmed his commitment to ending the opioid epidemic through a collaboration across several state departments and agencies. Murphy’s approach includes increasing access to prevention and treatment programs in our communities and supporting individuals in recovery. Governor Murphy announced that the preliminary 2019 year-end data shows the loss of 3,021 New Jerseyans to suspected overdose deaths. That would be a 3% decrease in the number of individuals lost compared to 2018. Additionally, he announced a decline in the number of opioids prescribed statewide.
The Attorney General and Commissioners of Health, Human Services, Corrections and other administration leadership outlined their efforts in the response to the opioid crisis.
For more information on the governor’s administration’s efforts, click here.