Partnership for a Drug-Free N.J. partners on 2023 Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies will renew the popular Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series for 2023 with a new slate of topics and expert speakers focused on the opioid crisis.

The 2023 Learning Series, which will be held in collaboration with the Opioid Education Foundation of America, will kick off Wednesday with the webinar, “From Pills to Fentanyl: Understanding the Opioid Crisis” featuring Dr. Lewis S. Nelson, chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Nelson will speak about the current characteristics of the opioid crisis in New Jersey and what challenges lie ahead in addressing it.

PDFNJ and NJ CARES, which is responsible for overseeing addiction-fighting efforts across the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, have planned to address wide-ranging topics concerning the opioid epidemic in the 2023 Learning Series, including educating families about proper opioid use and potential misuse, opioid alternatives for youths through seniors, the rise of polysubstance use, the intersection of race, culture and the opioid epidemic, and evidence-based programs for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.

“The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series is a trusted resource for New Jersey residents to learn more about the opioid crisis and educate themselves on how to make a difference in the fight against the epidemic,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “We are grateful for our continued collaboration with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, which has been an invaluable partner in planning the series.”

The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series began in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to educate New Jersey residents on various aspects of the opioid epidemic and its impact on New Jersey and the nation. It is a branch of PDFNJ’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day statewide initiative, which has been held annually on Oct. 6 since 2016 to educate residents and prescribers on the risks of prescription opioids and to raise awareness of the opioid crisis throughout the state.

The 2022 Learning Series included 12 webinars that drew a total audience of more than 8,000 participants and featured various speakers discussing all aspects of the opioid epidemic, including Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic”; Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research, Heller School for Social Policy and Management; and former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey.

Other speakers included representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey State Police, National Institute on Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.