Progress in the Battle Against Opioid Epidemic: New Jersey Records Decrease in Overdoses

Millburn, NJ, Sept. 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Recently released provisional data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on opioid overdoses show New Jersey overdose numbers are declining.

“Although even one life lost is too many, we are very encouraged to see that New Jersey is on track to be one of only a handful of states that have seen a decline in overdoses caused by opioids over the last year,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). 

New Jersey government and advocacy community have worked together to save lives from the opioid crisis, including the designation by the legislature and Gov. Murphy of October 6, 2023 as Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day – a day of awareness and education on the opioid epidemic coordinated by PDFNJ – and, the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series. The learning series commences monthly with a webinar on a topic related to the opioid crisis and is a program of the PDFNJ held in collaboration with NJ CARES, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, and The Opioid Education Foundation of America.

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health, will be the keynote speaker for the October 6 webinar and will address the overdose data, trends and emerging threats that impact New Jersey.

“For the last decade, PDFNJ has focused on developing strategies to address the opioid epidemic in New Jersey – including safe prescribing education for our doctors and dentists, educational programs for our parents, and awareness campaigns for our youth.  We will not stop our efforts until there are no overdoses caused by opioids,” Valente said.

PDFNJ is also working with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to educate student-athletes on the risks of opioids. Student-athletes have an elevated risk of opioid use as sports injuries send more than 2.6 million children to emergency rooms every year, according to the CDC. The mission of this initiative is to educate student-athletes on the risks of prescription opioids, as well as the importance of taking care of themselves physically and mentally.

“With more education, awareness, and prevention, we can hopefully stem the tide of this epidemic, that continues to evolve with emerging threats such as the opioid fentanyl and xylazine that are responsible for so many deaths,” Valente said.

PDFNJ coordinated New Jersey's first-ever statewide RX take-back event, which received recognition from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Additionally, they successfully enacted legislation mandating a discussion with patients or their parents before prescribing opioids, aiming to inform them about the risks of dependency and addiction and the available alternatives.

For resources and further information about Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, visit


Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey: Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $200 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 217 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.