Preventing Substance Misuse Among Seniors: A “W.I.S.E.” Approach

By: Adrienne Davis

When the subject of substance abuse or misuse is presented, what image does your mind’s eye conjure? So often we picture a troubled youth heading down the dark tunnel of addiction. When we hear tales of addiction they come from every walk of life; from the troubled youth, the athletic teenager, and the stressed adult. However, substance abuse is a far reaching, multi-faceted social issue that can affect many aspects of our society. Although, one section of society that may not always come to mind when it comes to addiction is the senior citizen population.

As with any title throughout our lifespans, we are given cultural labels and titles that we adhere to regularly. Seniors are often put into the category of ‘grandparent.’ Even the term ‘senior’ comes with its own connotations. Senior citizens are often seen as caring, nurturing, wise, and knowledgeable. While all of these attributes are admirable, giving someone a label makes it easier to disregard them or dismiss them as a three-dimensional being with individualized thoughts, feelings, and problems. Substance abuse and misuse is an overlooked issue among the senior citizen population.

The aging process is not without its own complications. In addition to a decrease in physical well-being, seniors can also experience a loss of family, loneliness, fewer friends, or the loss of a partner. These are among the reasons why senior citizens may turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope. When we study the causes of addiction for the varying age groups we see the source of the issue is distinctive for each age group. However, the physical, emotional, and behavioral consequences of addiction in senior citizens closely mirrors the rest of society.

Prescription drug abuse and misuse is an important element in understanding how someone may become dependent on drugs or alcohol. Senior citizens are the most susceptible to the misuse of prescription drugs. More than 80% of seniors take at least one prescription medication, and more than 50% take at least 5 medications. Misusing medication includes: taking a medication concurrently with alcohol, taking a dosage that was not prescribed, using outdated medication, forgetting to fill prescriptions, missing doses, taking medication that is prescribed for someone else, or stretching out medications in order for them to last longer. Misuse of medication may occur for different reasons, but prevention is always a possibility. Individuals who feel they may be misusing their medications can speak with their doctors, use pill organizers, ask for larger print on their prescription labels, and coordinate their prescription use with their daily calendar.

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Detecting the signs and symptoms of drug abuse or dependence in seniors may be difficult because they can mirror the symptoms of other medical ailments such as depression, dementia, and diabetes. However, asking questions and raising personal awareness are both key factors in seeking assistance for the issue. Seniors may experience problems with memory, the desire to be left alone, changes in eating habits, changes in hygiene, changes in sleeping habits, irritability, depression, and lack of interest in their usual activities.

Viewing substance abuse as an issue that can affect anyone is an unsettling thought, but when we arm ourselves with knowledge it becomes easier to combat the problem. Seniors in the throes of addiction or dependence can speak with their doctor, friends, and loved ones for assistance. Prevention is also key in lessening the scope of addiction. The Southwest Council employs curriculum such as the Wellness Initiative for Senior Education (WISE) in order to spread the message of seniors and addiction. WISE is an educational program that discusses the aging process while developing strategies to enrich and encourage a healthy lifestyle. For additional information about addiction, or the senior education program, contact the Southwest Council at 856-794-1011.


Sources:

Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Published July 2001. Revised January 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse

Qato DM, Alexander GC, Conti RM, Johnson M, Schumm P, Lindau ST. Use of Prescription and Over-the-counter Medications and Dietary Supplements Among Older Adults in the United States. JAMA. 2008;300(24):2867. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.892.

 
 Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.  Rowan University - BA Law & Justice

Adrienne has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2015 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Adrienne provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Salem County. Additionally, she helps to plan and facilitate Camp YEY.

Rowan University - BA Law & Justice

 

Healthy Coping Skills

By: Bethany Vega

In today’s society people are faced with a variety of stressors, including finances, jobs, and school. According to stress.org 44% of Americans state they feel more stressed now than 5 years ago. When stress begins each person finds their own way of coping, but how can we distinguish between a healthy coping skill versus something that just makes us feel good? It is important to be able to identify healthy skills which can be as easy as a few deep breaths.

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It might seem rather juvenile to be explaining these coping skills but we seem to forget them. In our communities we would rather turn to something that gives us instant gratification such as alcohol or drugs. The dangers of coping in unhealthy ways can add up quickly. Using drugs and/or alcohol to cope is simply pushing down the problem rather than actually dealing with it.

What is great about coping skills is that there are so many to choose from. Healthy coping skills come in all different forms. When you are feeling stressed at work take a few deep breaths and count to ten, or take a couple long sips of cold water. Some other skills that are more involved are going for a walk, exercising, or even talking to someone. The next time you are faced with a stressor see what healthy coping skill you use.

Learning healthy coping skills from a young age is important to stress management as an adult. Southwest Council offers programs in schools that help students understand healthy ways to cope. In our Life Skills Training program, we have the students help us compile a list of healthy and unhealthy ways to cope. They are so creative in finding healthy ways to cope and often learn new ones. At home, families can sit down together to discuss stressors and identify how to cope together. If you, or someone you know, is in need of learning healthy coping skills please reach out to the Southwest Council, Inc. at (800) 856-9609.

 
 Beth has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2016 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Beth provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Gloucester County.  Asbury University - BA Social Work

Beth has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2016 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Beth provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Gloucester County.

Asbury University - BA Social Work

 

The Good, Bad, and Everything In Between: Social Media’s Effect on Teenage Mental Health

By: Kevin Allen Jr.

It’s no secret that social media plays a large role in influencing youth in today’s growing society, but what are some of the effects constant social media exposure can have on younger generations?  Are they all bad effects?  All good?  Social media is how many young adults, teenagers, and youth in general communicate and express themselves in our large world, and sometimes this communication can be beneficial to users, and other times it can be more damaging to their overall mental health well-being.  An estimate shows that in 2018 there will be 2.67 billion social network users worldwide, which solidifies the fact that social media is not going to go away anytime soon, so it is important that we utilize the positive elements that social media offers to youth and try to inform users the negatives that can occur from spending too much time in this virtual world.

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Internet and social media usage has been reported to affect various aspects of an individual’s livelihood.  Because of social media, the youth have grown up in place where striving for likes on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is commonplace.  When these likes don’t come rolling in, youth might have a negative experience on these social media sites, potentially damaging their self-esteem and causing depression-like symptoms.  Two studies conducted in 2014 concluded that depressive symptoms (low moods, feeling worthless and hopeless, increasing sadness) were linked to whether or not online interactions were positive or negative, where the negative interactions, like cyberbullying, resulted in higher depressive symptoms.  Whether the interaction is positive or negative, it is apparent that youth are becoming more and more dependent on social media usage and interactions.  In 2011, researchers concluded that even though social media addiction is not included as an addictive disorder, individuals may still need professional help to handle their social media addiction.  Those who used social media at an excessive rate showed more relationship issues, lower academic achievement, and less social interactions within the real world. 

Not all youth interactions with social media have to be viewed as negative or causing damage to their well-being; there are some positives that can come out of social media usage from youth.  By being involved with social media, youth can become exposed to a wide variety of cultures, expanding their knowledge and awareness of what is happening around the world.  Along with learning about various cultures worldwide, youth can explore their local community and discover resources and support groups to help them during struggling times.  For example, teenagers who are part of the LGBTQ community or struggling with existing mental health issues might find it hard to express themselves within social situations, but through the power of social media and other online support groups these individuals can find friendships, a sense of encouragement, and help for developing social skills. 

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As in most things in life, social media has its pros and cons, and it all comes down to the users experience online.  Without guidance and proper knowledge, social media can be harmful to youth, decreasing their self-esteem and increasing risk of depression.  It isn’t realistic to completely cut social media out of the life of teenagers, but it is realistic to inform them how to properly utilize online resources, including social media, to better their lives.  The Southwest Council provides preventative in-school programs helping youth develop important life skills, particularly when it comes to maintaining a positive self-image, effective communication on and offline, avoiding risky addictive behaviors and much more.  Talk with the youth in your home to see if they know how social media can be beneficial and harmful in their lives, and if they have ever learned about the topics that the Southwest Council prevention team covers.  If you have any questions about the Southwest Council, or to see if your child’s school has a Southwest Council professional teaching this valuable material, visit http://www.southwestcouncil.org or contact us at (856) 794-1011. 

 

 Sources: 

https://www.modernghana.com/news/727123/positive-effects-of-social-media-on-the-youth.html

https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health 

https://smallbusiness.chron.com/negative-effect-social-media-society-individuals-27617.html 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907111/ 

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/8/9/3528/htm?hc_location=ufi

 
 Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.  When not working, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, cheering on the New York Giants, and spending quality time with family and friends. He is currently pursuing an MS in Mental Health Counseling at Capella University.  Rowan University - BA Psychology

Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

When not working, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, cheering on the New York Giants, and spending quality time with family and friends. He is currently pursuing an MS in Mental Health Counseling at Capella University.

Rowan University - BA Psychology

 

POINTS PENALTIES PILLS - CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS OPIOID CRISIS IMPACTING STUDENTS ATHLETES

Salem County, NJ – Over the past few years the professional sports community has suffered a number of tragic deaths related to substance abuse. While these losses have brought great sorrow, they have also shed light on an important issue that has the potential to be fatal for our youth athletes.  Sports injuries are a common occurrence for both professional and youth athletes. The emotional and physical toll sports injuries have on athletes leaves them vulnerable to prescription drug misuse. This reality begs the question, “how do we protect our kids from prescription drug misuse?”

The Salem-Cumberland Regional Action Towards Community Health (SCRATCH) Coalition in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Education, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, and Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey will address this question and more this Fall at Points Penalties Pills Youth Athlete Conference at Running Deer Golf Club.

Points Penalties Pills will take place on Friday, October 19, from 9:00am to 2:00pm as an extension of Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, a state-wide opioid misuse prevention initiative that takes place annually in early October.  

Athletic directors, trainers, coaches, school nurses, school administration, and concerned parents and guardians of youth athletes in Salem and Cumberland Counties are encouraged to attend!  There is no cost to attend, however registration is required. Professional Development hours will be given to Salem & Cumberland County school staff in attendance through the Department of Education. Light breakfast & lunch are included, and as additional incentive, Running Deer Golf Club is offering a discounted green fee rate of $20 for 9 holes of golf available after the conference!

Points Penalties Pills will include:

Keynote Speaker & Breakout Presenter - William Lynch - Staff Pharmacist with Jefferson Health System-Cherry Hill Hospital (JHS-CH) "Prescription Drug Abuse: Our National Epidemic" - educating about the real world implications of drug abuse, particularly with students and youth athletes. Bill shares stories from his personal experiences as a pharmacist and coach to teach how to better care for and protect the youth in your life.

Breakout Presenter - Larry White - Executive Director - NJSIAA, Larry addresses youth opioid use from every angle.  Speaking from his experiences as a former youth athlete, coach, and now Executive Director of the New Jersey Interstate Interscholastic Athletic Association to teach best coaching practices.   Larry is poised to addresses athletic departments and trainers on what to consider when an athlete is injured.

Breakout Presenter - Ashley Mallon - Prevention Specialist - Southwest Council, "SPOT IT: Are You Missing The Signs?" - spotting the trending signs of substance abuse can be tricky. Ashley's research and anecdotes provides fresh context to open your eyes to potential abuse, as well as how and why to engage the students for substance abuse prevention, including the personal value of accounting, securing, disposing of your prescription medication.

Points Penalties Pills is one of the many ways the SCRATCH coalition is working to prevent the abuse of addictive substances through strategic community partnerships. Our stakeholders come together monthly and participate in various action workgroups to focus on three areas of misuse: 1) alcohol, 2) marijuana and tobacco, and 3) prescription drugs.

For more information about Points Penalties Pills or to join a substance abuse prevention workgroups contact SCRATCH Coalition Coordinator Donald Noblett (856) 794-1011 ext. 316 or at donald@southwestcouncil.org.  For the latest SCRATCH Coalition updates follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/ScratchCoalition.

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Why Being the “Cool” Parent Is Not Worth It: Hosting Teen Drinking

By Kevin Allen Jr.

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug throughout the entirety of the United States, and more significantly, the most commonly used drug within U.S. youth.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, better known as SAMHSA (2015), by age 15 about 33 percent of teens have had at least one drink, and by the age of 18 that number increases to 60 percent.  You may be wondering how these teens gain such easy access to alcohol, and the answer is right underneath your own roof.  A survey conducted by the American Medical Association found that nearly one in four teens, aged 13-18, say their own parents have supplied them with alcohol, and two out of three teens, aged 13-18, said it is easy to get alcohol from their homes without parents knowing about it.  As parents, it is important to understand the seriousness behind underage drinking and the dangers that can arise from allowing your teenagers to consume alcohol.  

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“It’s only one drink” is not an excuse for allowing underage drinking to become commonplace within the household.  During the teenage years, the brain is doing its most important development; when alcohol is thrown into the mix that development can be seriously disrupted.  Some physical consequences that teenage drinking can cause includes: physical illness (hangovers, alcohol poisoning), changes and delays in brain development, increased memory problems, and increased chance of future alcohol addiction (CDC, 2018).  Not only are their risks for the youth involved in drinking, but also for the individuals hosting the event.  Under social host liability laws, parents are responsible for any underage drinking taking place within their homes. Parents must be aware that supplying alcoholic beverages to those underage is a crime and the parent doing so could be responsible for any injuries which the minor causes or sustains. N.J.S.A 2C:33-17 prohibits anyone from serving alcohol to minors or making their homes available for underage drinking. Both of these offenses are disorderly persons offenses, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, as well as any damages awarded in a lawsuit. Parents who supply their children with alcohol are subject to civil and criminal charges.  Even though your teenager’s health and wellbeing comes first, it is important to realize that it's not the only thing that is at risk when it comes to hosting a party where underage drinking occurs.

As adults, parents, and concerned community members, there are many courses of action that we can take in order to make sure that teenagers are safe.  Parents must understand that they are a major influence on their children’s attitudes and beliefs when it comes to alcohol.  Even though it may not be the easiest conversation to have, parents must be able to talk to their teenagers about drinking, both how to drink responsibly when of age, and the risks that come with drinking irresponsibly.  Ask your teens if they understand the risks that are associated with drinking underage, and if they know about the consequences that come with it.  The Southwest Council is an agency that strives to educate and spread awareness to both youth and adults regarding substance use and abuse.  You can find representatives of the Southwest Council within schools providing evidence-based prevention curricula to all grade levels, or within the community working alongside community members on numerous coalition initiatives.  If you like to know more about what the Southwest Council can provide for you and your family, please contact us at (856)-794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org/our-approach.

 
 Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.  When not working, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, cheering on the New York Giants, and spending quality time with family and friends. He is currently pursuing an MS in Mental Health Counseling at Capella University.  Rowan University - BA Psychology

Kevin has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Kevin provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

When not working, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, cheering on the New York Giants, and spending quality time with family and friends. He is currently pursuing an MS in Mental Health Counseling at Capella University.

Rowan University - BA Psychology

 

Another Year, Another Wonderful Experience at Camp YEY

By: Rob Hawn

On August 17, the Southwest Council wrapped up their second and final week of Camp YEY’s 11th year. Camp YEY (Youth Empowering Youth) began as an initiative of the Southwest Council in 2007 in hopes of developing youth leaders within the community. The activities and lessons that campers participate in during their time at Camp YEY focus around leadership. The goal has been to empower campers to make healthy decisions, so that they are able to serve as positive role models for other young people. 

                     Week 1- 6th-8th Grade    

For the past 11 years, the week-long summer experience has taken place at Camp Edge located in Alloway, NJ during two full weeks of August. Just this past August, Southwest Council staff served just over 130 Camp YEY campers ranging from youth entering grade 4 all the way through 8TH grade. Additionally, approximately 20 high-school-aged teens served as Counselor Assistants. 

The Counselor Assistant (CA) program was developed as a way to engage former campers in a leadership opportunity. In the spring, former campers who have aged out of Camp YEY were given the unique opportunity to apply for a CA position. CAs were then interviewed and those chosen attended an intensive two-day training with our staff prior to camp.       

               Week 2- 4th-5th Grade

While CAs served in several roles during their time at camp, they mainly supported Southwest Council staff in the implementation of Camp YEY’s daily activities. One of the most important daily activities is an interactive and educational lesson. The topics that are covered during the week focus primarily on character education (goal setting, communication, self-esteem, decision-making) with a brief insight to ATOD (Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs) use and how it affects the body. These central topics were reinforced through a number of exciting and dynamic activities throughout the day and week.  

The opportunity of activities that the campers participate in has broadened each year. This year, The Southwest Council introduced activities focused around mental health and wellness to the campers and CAs. Campers had the chance to participate in a yoga and meditation experience implemented by Erica Paciello of Santosha as well as a budgeting and life skills class provided by Alex DelCollo of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Salem County.

Red Bulls Celebrating their Color Wars victory

All campers also participated in Color Wars which consisted of daily activities that engaged campers in inspiring teamwork, team spirit, and problem solving through mental and physical challenges. Color Wars was huge hit each week for all the teams but ultimately only one team could hoist the prize box and claim glory. Week 1, the Green Camos set the tone early on and never really let up securing them the top spot on the pedestal. Week 2 was a little bit of a tighter race that dramatically came down to the final day when the Red Bulls claimed victory after a thunderous performance of their team cheer. Congratulations to all the members of both teams for a job well done!

The Youth also explored all the amenities the camp has to offer including the high ropes course, archery range, Gaga Pit (Israeli Dodgeball), and a lake with opportunities for swimming and canoeing to give the students the full campground experience.

At the conclusion of each week, families of campers were invited to a Family Fun Day which took place onsite. During their time at the campgrounds, families were immersed in the full Camp YEY experience - sitting in on lessons, participating in activities, and enjoying an awards ceremony where campers performed team cheers and showcased the posters that they worked so hard on all week.

        Blue Bandits having fun during Photo                               Scavenger Hunt

This year the SWC implemented a new “Olympic” themed reward system that was created to recognize students for their leadership efforts throughout each week. The Olympic Motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” which is loosely translated to Faster, Higher, and Stronger. At the end of each week, Team leaders recognized and presented medals to students who were FASTER than anyone to lend a helping hand, showed their abilities to lead the team HIGHER with their friendship and enthusiasm, and showed their capability of leading by example and building a STRONGER reputation than ever before. The incredible young campers received Medals as well as some cool Camp YEY insignia.

We love Camp YEY!

After the conclusion of the ceremony, all families were invited to stay for a fun filled day provided by Masters of Magic and Fun which included carnival themed games, balloon animals, face painting, snow cones, popcorn, and even an opportunity to dunk their favorite team leaders in a dunk tank. Members of the Alloway Twp Fire Department came out to provide the kids with an opportunity to practice their fire safety skills. All attendees were also able to enjoy a barbeque-style lunch courtesy of Metz Culinary Management. 

Perhaps the best part about Camp YEY is that is offered free-of-charge to youth in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties. Included, campers received transportation, a team t-shirt, a healthy and balanced snack and lunch each day, and, participated in a number of fun and educational activities. Camp YEY is sponsored in part by grants and personal donations. If you are interested in receiving more information about Camp YEY, or are interested in donating, please contact us at campyey@southwestcouncil.org

 
 Robert has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Robert provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

Robert has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since January of 2018 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Robert provides evidence-based school and community wide-programs in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem County. He also assists in facilitating Camp YEY.

 

Harrison Township Police Department Acquires Permanent Prescription Drop Box

*MEDIA UPDATE* 

SNJ Today Nightly News coverage: 

www.snjtoday.com/clip/14577877/prescription-drug-box


For Immediate Release

August 20, 2017

Media Contact

Those wishing to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medications in the Mullica Hill area now have a new disposal site at the Harrison Township Police Department. The Gloucester Regional Addictive Substances Prevention (GRASP) coalition awarded the department with an American Medicine Chest Challenge permanent prescription drop box as a partner in curbing prescription drug abuse. The box is located inside the Harrison Township Police Department at 199 Colson Ln, Mullica Hill, NJ. It will be available to the public during normal business hours or when a police officer is present at the station.  For additional information, residents may contact the police department at (856) 478-6839 or visit  http://harrisontwp.us/municipal-departments/police-department/ for additional information.

  Left to right: Candice Carter (GRASP Coalition);   Chief Thomas Mills (Harrison Township Police); Lieutenant Ronald Cundey (Harrison Township Police); D  etective Adam McEvoy ( (HarrisonTownship Police)

Left to right: Candice Carter (GRASP Coalition); Chief Thomas Mills (Harrison Township Police); Lieutenant Ronald Cundey (Harrison Township Police); Detective Adam McEvoy ((HarrisonTownship Police)

Harrison Township Police Chief Thomas Mills and Lieutenant Ronald Cundey joined forces with Candice Carter of the GRASP Coalition, to provide the prescription drop box to the Harrison Township community.  When asked how the Drop Box would affect the Harrison Township community, Police Chief Mills stated, “This service will hopefully be a positive impact on our senior community, they will be able to get the unused, expired prescriptions out of their homes and by doing that it will prevent the possibility of other crimes being committed on their homes or with the pills .

With the installation of this drop box, the department adds an additional resource to the fight against drug abuse and especially the opiate crisis.  The department invites residents, businesses, and other partners in the community program to use the drop box to prevent dangerous medications from falling into the hands of children or people suffering from addiction.  

Harrison Township Police Department and the GRASP coalition challenges families to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

  • Account - take inventory of your prescription and over-the counter medicine.
  • Secure - your medicine chest and prescription drugs.
  • Dispose - of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.
  • Take - your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk - to the children in your life about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Permanent drop boxes and the awareness campaigns surrounding them are an important part of reducing the abuse of prescription medication.  When left around the house, unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to abuse, environmental harm and accidental poisoning.  2 in 5 teenagers believe prescription drugs are “much safer” than illegal drugs.  Every day in the U.S. an estimated 2,500 youth take a prescription pain reliever for the purpose of getting high for the first time.  The abuse of prescription painkillers is the leading cause of heroin abuse.  Unused drugs that are flushed can also contaminate the water supply, thus proper disposal of prescription drugs does dual duty of saving lives and protecting the environment.  

The prescription drop box was purchased by the GRASP coalition, a substance abuse prevention coalition.  For more information about GRASP and how to get involved, please visit southwestcouncil.org/GRASP or call 856-494-4950.

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Help Support Tiffany After House Fire

Tiffany Hyndman joined the Southwest Council in October 2017, after she and her wife Crystal came through a Strengthening Families Program.  It was while attending the Strengthening Families Program that Tiffany learned about Peer Recovery Coaching at the Southwest Council. Tiffany joined the agency as a part-time recovery coach in the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP), and has been an integral part of our team ever since!

On July 2, 2018 Tiffany and her family suffered a devastating fire to their home.  Tiffany’s 12-year old son was home alone when he smelled smoke. He was able to get himself and his dog out of the house, but the family’s cat and bird succumbed to the fire. Tiffany and her family lost everything; the entire house was damaged beyond repairs.  Tiffany, Crystal, and their two children Giovanni and Ally must find another location to call home.  

Currently, the primary goal is to secure housing for the family. There will be future outreach efforts for additional items once they get settled. If you would like to support Tiffany's needs you can give a tax deductible gift using through our donate link, be sure to write in "Tiffany Hyndman House Fire" in the notes section to designate the gift and we will be sure it gets to her. 

Account. Secure. Dispose. Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                               July 18, 2018

Media Contact:                                                                                                                                   Ashley Mallon                                                                                                                                      The Southwest Council Inc.                                                                                                               856-794-1011 Ext 318                                                                                                             Ashley@southwestcouncil.org

Account. Secure. Dispose,” one of the newest community initiatives takes aim at the current drug crisis by educating on medication misuse and abuse, and gives participants proper medication storage and disposal tools to deal with unwanted medications.  

The SCRATCH Prevention Coalition relays a 3-part message to participants - ACCOUNT, SECURE, and DISPOSE of your unwanted medications, and they even provide each participant with tangible tools to do just that. Ashley Mallon, a prevention specialist at the Southwest Council who trains on the initiative states, “This information is so important for the community to hear. Most of the time, we only hear about how bad the drug problem is in our area, but it isn’t often that people provide a solution after they present you with the problem.”

Unfortunately, prescription medications are abused often and can be just as harmful as illegal street drugs if they are not used correctly. Especially considering the staggering reality that prescription pain killers very often leads to heroin use, contributing to the ongoing epidemic that has come to forefront the last few years.

Mallon reports why she feels so strongly about educating the community through this initiative, “I appreciate that “Account, Secure, Dispose,” not only dives into the current drug problem, but then it offers tangible solutions for accounting of medications through med-trackers and securing them with prescription timer caps which act like a stopwatch whenever the lid is opened, and disposing through Deterra pouches which are environmentally friendly.

Just the simple act of cleaning out your medicine cabinet can go a long way to protect your family from accumulating a drug problem and can even make your home safer from those who may have a drug problem or even a curious teen living under their parents roof. 

To date, the SCRATCH Coalition has served over 475 participants with this educational presentation and is currently seeking more opportunities to disperse this essential information. If you believe that this presentation may benefit your organization, your church, your employees, or even your circle of friends, please contact Ashley Mallon at Ashley@southwestcouncil.org or by phone at 856-794-1011 x318.

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 Ashley joined the agency in 2014 and currently serves as the Salem-Cumberland PFS Coordinator. Ashley works closely with community organizations, municipal partners, and families by utilizing environmental strategies and initiatives that will reduce underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. 

Ashley joined the agency in 2014 and currently serves as the Salem-Cumberland PFS Coordinator. Ashley works closely with community organizations, municipal partners, and families by utilizing environmental strategies and initiatives that will reduce underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. 

 

Don’t Let the JUULs Fool You: The Unglamorous Side to Vaping

By Bethany Vega

Vaping is the hit new thing right now. Through advertising as a healthier option to smoking and offering users different flavors, Vaping usage is on rise.  Vaping is not only an alternative to smoking, but is becoming a trend through users creating different blow talents. We must stop and ask ourselves is this really a healthier option? What’s really in there? 

The first thing we should look at is the “healthier option” to smoking. How true is that? Not at all true, in fact, many of the same cancer causing ingredients in tobacco products are found in vapes such as: nicotine, propylene glycol, lead, nickel, and tin. While some companies say they are nicotine free there are still the other unhealthy chemicals going into the user’s body. 

At least the flavors are all natural, or so one may think. The truth is not all of the flavoring is natural, and while some flavors are listed as safe for consumption, it is not intended to be inhaled directly into our lungs. There are still studies being done to determine the harmful effects of inhaling these flavors into the lungs. One of the chemicals found in e-liquids is called diacetyl. Diacetyl has been linked to a serious lung disease known as Bronchiolitis Obliterations or “popcorn lung”, a condition of irreversible inflammation and scarring in the lungs. 

In November of 2017 a new law passed in New Jersey raising the age requirement for purchase and usage of tobacco products to 21 years old from the previous 19 year old requirement. Since 2014, when e-cigarettes and vapes hit the market, tobacco usage has decreased in middle and high school students. However, the usage of e-cigarettes and vapes has increased. Despite the new law, youth continue to partake in vaping and using e-cigarettes. 

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 The vaping market has changed over time creating vapes that are smaller and more discreet making it easy for youth to sneak these items into schools. Youth are using these not only for vaping, but also “one hitters” for marijuana. Some vapes can look like pens, or everyday school items. One of the more popular and recent ones on the market, the “JUUL”, looks like a flash drive. On the website JUUL uses the line, “The Smoking Alternative, unlike any E-Cigarette or Vape…”. The JUUL is so popular among youth that Business Insider commented, “Among teens, the Juul is not just a noun. It’s also a verb.” This is something taking youth by storm.

The Southwest Council offers presentations to adults 18 and older, one of them being a presentation on vaping. We include several vaping items, activities to test your knowledge, and the latest information in our vaping presentations. If you are interested in having a presentation, please reach out to the Southwest Council at (856)-794-1011 or visit us online at www.southwestcouncil.org

 
 Beth has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2016 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Beth provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Gloucester County.

Beth has been with the Southwest Council, Inc. since 2016 and serves as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Specialist. Beth provides evidence-based school and community-wide programs in Gloucester County.

 

The SCRATCH Coalition Is At It Again!!

By: Robert Hawn

WHAT?

The Southwest council is taking the neighborhood by storm as the SCRATCH Coalition has added not one, but two brand new outdoor recreation ordinances. These get added to an already impressive list of existing ordinances; giving now seven total in Cumberland County alone.

Early 2018 has been a busy time for the coalition as well as the county as they introduced brand new ordinances in both Maurice River and Millville Townships. Since the age of sale of all tobacco products was raised from 19 to 21 in November 2017, the SCRATCH Coalition has been working collaboratively with Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey, Inspira's Region 10 Cancer and Chronic Disease Coalition, Millville LINK, and Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition connecting with municipalities who have not yet passed Outdoor Recreation Ordinances in the county.

 WHERE?

 In March, Maurice River Township amended Ordinance NO.671- Section 3-5. This ordinance was passed to ban the use all tobacco products including E- cigarettes in all recreation areas such as parks and all baseball fields. SCRATCH has also partnered up with New Jersey Prevention Network to post educational signage in all baseball dugouts just in time for this current baseball season. This Ordinance was put into effect on March 15, 2018.

More recently, the city of Millville has passed the amending of Ordinance NO.17-2018. This came after two Millville high school students Jared Kinlaw (10th grade) and Brianna Messier (11th grade) spoke out at a Millville City Council Working Session in March. The students presented their cases as to why they are passionate about seeing tobacco free areas in Millville.  Commissioners had no choice but to unanimously pass this new Outdoor Recreational Ordinance banning the use of all tobacco products including e-cigarettes on city properties including city parks and City Hall beginning on April 27, 2018.

  Millville Junior Brianna Messier presenting at a Millville City Council Working Session in March 2018 about the reasons why she is passionate about seeing smoke free places in Millville.

Millville Junior Brianna Messier presenting at a Millville City Council Working Session in March 2018 about the reasons why she is passionate about seeing smoke free places in Millville.

  Left to right: Millville LINK’s Chelsea Santiago, Tobacco Free for a Healthy NJ’s Kim Burns, Millville Mayor Michael Santiago, Millville Officer Rick Kott, and SCRATCH Coalition Coordinator Donald Noblett

Left to right: Millville LINK’s Chelsea Santiago, Tobacco Free for a Healthy NJ’s Kim Burns, Millville Mayor Michael Santiago, Millville Officer Rick Kott, and SCRATCH Coalition Coordinator Donald Noblett

WHY?

A lot of people wonder exactly why these ordinances are passed because they believe the common misconception that second hand smoke can’t kill people. Well, according to American Lung Association, secondhand smoke is responsible for more than 41,000 deaths per year. That’s a scary statistic because of the fact of how easily it can be prevented. Now, this isn’t a PSA against people who smoke because even though it’s a nasty habit, it is understandable that it is an addiction that is hard to shake. This is simply serving as plea to care about protecting youth & preventing youth substance abuse use. Make it a priority to make the community better by not smoking in places filled with innocent children.  Simply care because Ordinances like these create healthy communities for our families to live, work, and play.

 HOW?

If you live in a municipality that has not yet passed an Outdoor Recreational Ordinance and you would like more information on the benefits of doing so, please contact SCRATCH Coalition Coordinator Donald Noblett.  donald@southwestcouncil.org  (856) 794-1011 ext. 316

It's Not Worth The Risk.

By Maggie Fye

In a few weeks, it will be four years ago that my two year old daughter, Catey, was poisoned by a prescription medication called Amitriptyline. My daughter’s survival was nothing short of a miracle, and her poisoning was very much preventable. 

In May 2014, I came home to my daughter asleep on the floor in her bedroom making some strange sounds. When I went to check on her, she was beginning to have seizures, which she had never had before. When I pulled back the blankets, I realized that she had taken my prescription bottle of amitriptyline from my night stand. 

This particular medication is extremely toxic, especially to small children, yet ironically looks very similar to candy to a child and has a sweet-tasting coating. My daughter sucked the sweet coating off of these pills and spit them out when they became bitter, however, this medication is one of a list of medications that can be fatal in one dose to a small child. 

I knew this was bad, but I had no idea how bad. I could barely physically hold onto my daughter as I ran with her into the emergency room because of the seizures. She was making noises that I had never heard any human make before. My precious little daughter, my first child, who had been perfectly healthy only hours before, was unconscious, seizing and now could not breathe and needed to be intubated. 

I remember when the Life Flight technician was preparing her for the flight, she stopped seizing momentarily and her eyes opened. He said to her, “oh, there you are” but as her mom, I could see there was nothing there. The was no life behind her eyes. She had never been away from me and now, she was intubated and they were going to fly away with her, and there was no room on the aircraft for me. 

Catey was admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit, and she was placed on a ventilator. She was medically sedated and the specialists at that hospital prepared me for her inevitable death. They said that in over 20 years, they had never had a non-fatal outcome in a pediatric TCA (tri-cyclic antidepressant) overdose. They went on to advise me that they would be bringing in life support, for WHEN, not IF, she went into cardiac arrest. Her organs were too small and would be damaged by any efforts at resuscitation.

So then we waited. Waited for her to go into cardiac arrest. Waited for her to die. I am sure it was not easy for the specialists to tell me that my child was going to die. The thought of losing my beautiful daughter because we had been so careless by leaving something I now know to be so very toxic, accessible to little hands, brought me to my knees. I could not hold her, and as the hours, then days, passed. Her body, which should have been up, doing ballerina twirls, was bloated and stiff. Her laughter was silenced. There were no hugs, no sloppy kisses, no sticky hands. She was gone, and I could have prevented all of it. 

Unbeknownst to me, the staff at the hospital called in an abuse report to Child Protective Services, since they did not know I was not home at the time, as she was under the care of my now-ex-husband. When Child Protective Services and the police came, I was advised that until the conclusion of their investigation I was prohibited from being alone with my own daughters and any other children. Now I faced losing my younger daughter, as well. As someone who took pride in being a good mother, this was like a punch to the gut. It took everything within me to be reminded that they were only doing their job. 

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On the fourth day, incredibly, Catey had not yet gone into cardiac arrest. Her body had processed enough of the toxins that they were able to slowly reverse her induced coma to try to wake her. They removed the ventilator and she eventually moved into a regular pediatric hospital room. Child Protective Services were able to sort through the facts and lifted the restriction placed on me. They concluded it as an accident, and I was cleared of any child abuse or neglect. My daughter was released to my care upon her discharge. 

The reality is that my daughter’s survival was against all odds, it was a miracle. The fact is, that this could have so easily been prevented. I knew, or thought I knew, about home safety. I did not realize just how dangerous unsecured medications are. 

I am one of many parents who have faced the consequences of failing to realize that unsecured medication, in little hands, can be as deadly. Every day in the United States, approximately four bus loads of children are seen in emergency rooms for accidental medication ingestion, and half of all poison exposures are children ages 6 and under. No family should ever have to experience the pain of such a preventable tragedy and most families are not as fortunate as we were in her survival. I have since made it my mission to honor the gift of her life, of getting a second chance despite all the odds, by sharing our story and educating others, who like me, never gave it that much thought. 

In my efforts to transform this life-changing near-tragedy into an opportunity for help and hope, I connected as a parent with my local substance abuse prevention coalition, Cumberland County Healthy Communities Coalition (CCHCC). I now serve as the Vice Chair of CCHCC, a role I am proud of. I’m honored to work with such a fantastic team of community partners who are just as passionate about substance abuse education and prevention, as well as creating a safe and healthy community for all of us. 

As part of CCHCC, I have had the opportunity to offer an educational workshop we created called, “Account. Secure. Dispose.” This well-received workshop includes the how and why for proper accounting, securing and disposing of medications. Participants are provided with a MedTracker, a Timer Cap for prescription bottles, and Deterra drug deactivation pouches to ensure they not only have the know-how, but the resources as well to begin to Account. Secure. Dispose. Contact our coalition to join our efforts or to learn more about our initiatives.

In the approximately 15 months we have been partnering with Inspira to resource the community with Account. Secure. Dispose., we have distributed more than 27,000 Deterra pouches to neutralize the components of unwanted medications, rendering them inert and ready for biodegrade disposal in regular household trash; without the worry of potential misuse, accidents, abuse, theft, or introducing harmful or even lethal chemicals into the environment. 

This was preventable in my home and it is preventable in your home. It is not worth the risk. Let’s all begin to Account. Secure. Dispose. and make our community safer and healthier. 

 
 Maggie Fye serves as the Co-chair of the CCHCC prevention coalition 

Maggie Fye serves as the Co-chair of the CCHCC prevention coalition 

 

Medicine Drop Box To Be At The Next CCIA Hazardous Waste Event

Cumberland County, NJ –  912,000, that is the number of pounds of prescription drugs Americans turned in last Fall at more than 9,600 sites DEA, state and local law enforcement partners. The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, the SCRATCH & CCHCC Coalitions, and the Cumberland County Improvement Authority urges residents of Cumberland to bring their unwanted medication for disposal to participating drop box sites and police stations in their township. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

The next Household Hazardous Waste event at the CCIA will be on Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 8 am - 2 pm at the Cumberland County Improvement Authority located at 169 Jesse Bridge Road in Rosenhayn. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department Mobile Prescription Drop Box will be there, and at all of the 2018 Cumberland County Household Hazardous Waste events!

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. The usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. 

“Increasingly people are becoming aware of the risks of prescription medication,” said the Coalition Director Matthew Rudd, “and the more people become aware, the more success we are having in disposing of potentially abused drugs.”

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Additionally, the following Saturday, April 28 is an official Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the DEA. Overall, in its 14 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 9 million pounds of pills. For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs, locations for disposal, or about the April 28th Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

Cumberland County residents can dispose of unneeded and expired medications and keep them away from those at risk of abusing them. A Drop Box can accept solid pharmaceuticals such as pills, capsules, patches, inhalers and pet medications. There is no limit. Contact the Sheriff’s Department at 856-451-4449 or visit their website or if you need additional information on the CCIA Household Hazardous Waste event access this link.

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A PSA For Athletes

By: Robert Hawn

Over the past few years, the Major League Baseball community lost many great faces of the game. The two that stick out the most to me are the deaths of former Cy Young award winner Roy “Doc” Halladay and the 24-year-old former Rookie of the year winner, Jose Fernandez. 

Although there have been a lot of men and women from the beloved sports world that have passed away recently, these two stand out to me because they are the most relatable. Yes, they are household names but, it makes an athlete think, “Hey, that could happen to me.”

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For those who do not know, Roy Halladay lost his life in November of 2017 after the plane he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It was originally reported that blunt force trauma and drowning were ruled the causes of death, however the toxicology report stated that Halladay had a high amount of Morphine in his system. There were also trace amounts of Amphetamines that totaled up to1800 ng/ml, nearly three times the average overdose limit.  Amphetamines are commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) but, could also be used to occasionally treat adults with Narcolepsy or Depression. However, if used incorrectly, an overdose of Amphetamines could result in hallucinations, restlessness and cardiac arrest which could potentially explain how Halladay lost control of the plane. It is fair to say that Halladay was using this combination of Opioids and Stimulants as an escape from the wear and tear that his exhausting 16-year baseball career left him. 

Fernandez on the other hand, who at the time was fighting with his girlfriend, became frustrated and depressed and decided to go for a late-night cruise on his fishing vessel. A few friends accompanied the star as he needed to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, that was the last trip they took as around 3 AM the boat struck a jetty right off the coast of Miami and killed everyone on board. The toxicology report later read that the MLB star, who was behind the wheel, had a large amount of cocaine and alcohol in his system.

The deaths of these stars have brought great sorrow to the world, but they have also brought a very important message to kids. The big picture here is that both men were going through some emotional distress. Whether it was depression, anger, or maybe dealing with injuries, the athletes resorted to looking for an escape that inevitably took their lives.

Although heartbreaking, this could act as a public service announcement that would make the public aware that no one person is indestructible. If this could happen to our pro athletes, imagine how this could be affecting our youth athletes.   

As a former three sport athlete and now coach, it is reasonable to say that this is something that could impact the lives of many other athletes. Regardless of the sport, there are many factors which can cause an athlete to experience stress or anxiety. The commitment of long seasons and daily practices cause constant wear and tear on an athlete’s body. The physical and psychological demands, paired with constant expectations of perfection, could be enough to push certain players past their limits. All these factors could go a long way in potentially causing stress and depression in their lives. 

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The idea of being a perfect student as well as the star athlete is manageable for some, but it is still a substantial amount of work, having the potential to lead kids down the wrong path. When pressures to perform are taking over an individual’s life, it is common for those individuals to try to find ways to ease the pain. That being said, it is important to understand that neither drugs nor alcohol are the answer.

I am sure that you are currently asking the question “Why does this matter to me?” and the answer is ALL athletes no matter the age, gender, or athletic ability deal with their own form of stress or pain. It is important to find a way to deal with it properly without harming themselves or their loved ones.

If you or a loved one is currently suffering from emotional distress and resorting to substance abuse, please feel free to contact us here at The Southwest Council.

For more information on how to identify this distress and help athletes; please attend our Points, Penalties and Pills conference that is taking place on Friday, February 23rd 2018 from 9am-1pm at Rowan College at Gloucester County.

 
 Rob is a Prevention Specialist with The Southwest Council

Rob is a Prevention Specialist with The Southwest Council

 

Woodbury Heights Police Department Acquires Permanent Prescription Drop Box

Those wishing to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medications in the Woodbury Heights area now have a new disposal site at the Woodbury Heights Police Department. The Gloucester Regional Addictive Substances Prevention (GRASP) coalition awarded the department with an American Medicine Chest Challenge permanent prescription drop box as a partner in curbing prescription drug abuse. The box is located inside the Woodbury Heights Police Department at 500 Elm Ave, Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097. It will be available to the public during normal business hours or when a police officer is present at the station.  For additional information, residents may contact the police department at 856-848-6707 or visit www.whpdnj.com for additional information.

Names from LEFT to RIGHT are:  Patrolman Richard Gambale, Tara Clay of the GRASP coalition, Candice Carter of the GRASP coalition, Acting Police Chief, Joshua Moline, and Patrolman Ben Grasso.

Woodbury Heights Acting Police Chief Joshua Moline worked with Candice Carter and Tara Clay of the GRASP Coalition, to provide the prescription drop box to the Woodbury Heights community.  When asked what motivated them to obtain a prescription drop box, Acting Police Chief Joshua Moline stated, “The drug box is part of an effort to reduce access to prescription drugs for teenagers. Unused and out-of-date medicines are also dangerous because of the chance of theft and misuse. Additionally, flushing medications down the sink or toilet can contaminate the water supply." 

With the installation of this drop box, the department adds an additional resource to the fight against drug abuse and especially the opiate crisis.  The department invites residents, businesses, and other partners in the community program to use the drop box to prevent dangerous medications from falling into the hands of children or people suffering from addiction.  

Woodbury Heights Police Department and the GRASP coalition challenges families to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

  • Account - Take inventory of your prescription and over-the counter medicine.
  • Secure - your medicine chest and prescription drugs.
  • Dispose - of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.
  • Take - your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk - to the children in your life about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Permanent drop boxes and the awareness campaigns surrounding them are an important part of reducing the abuse of prescription medication.  When left around the house, unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to abuse, environmental harm and accidental poisoning.  2 in 5 teenagers believe prescription drugs are “much safer” than illegal drugs.  Every day in the U.S. an estimated 2,500 youth take a prescription pain reliever for the purpose of getting high for the first time.  The abuse of prescription pain killers is the leading cause of heroin abuse.  Unused drugs that are flushed can also contaminate the water supply, thus proper disposal of prescription drugs does duel duty of saving lives and protecting the environment.  

The prescription drop box was purchased by the GRASP coalition, a substance abuse prevention coalition.  For more information about GRASP and how to get involved, please visit southwestcouncil.org/GRASP or call 856-494-4950.

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POINTS PENALTIES PILLS

YOUTH ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS HOW THE 

OPIOID EPIDEMIC IS AFFECTING STUDENTS ATHLETES

Gloucester County, NJ - On Friday, February 23, from 9:00am to 1:00pm Gloucester Regional Addictive Substance Prevention (GRASP) Coalition will be hosting at Rowan College of Gloucester County a youth athletic conference entitled “POINTS PENALTIES PILLS” aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic and the effects on student athletes.  

GRASP is encouraging all Athletic Directors, Athletic Trainers, School Personnel, Parents/Guardians in Gloucester County to attend this event. The day will consist of expert practitioners, solutions oriented workshops, and an engaging panel discussion. This is a free event that only requires prior registration to attend. For those who request it, CEU hours will be given. 

The inception of the conference came from the GRASP prescription/heroin committee as they worked together to bring solutions to prevent prescription drug abuse and collaborated with The New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Ave Altersitz, Executive County Superintendent of Gloucester County, became involved as a part of the DOE’s commitment to the students in Gloucester County: Too many young athletes are losing their lives to addiction. It's important that parents and school employees are educated about the overprescribing of opioids and the signs of addiction. Our children's lives depend on this knowledge.”

The conference is one of the many ways the GRASP coalition works to help educate and spread awareness consistent with the coalition’s mission of preventing the abuse of addictive substances through strategic community partnerships. Our stakeholders come together once a month and participate in various subcommittees that representing our three areas of focus: 1) alcohol abuse/underage drinking, 2) marijuana and tobacco, 3) prescription drugs and heroin.

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4th Annual Tree of Hope Coffeehouse

We are excited about our upcoming 4th Annual Tree of Hope, which will take place from 6-8pm on Friday, December 1st at the Cumberland County Community Churchin Millville, NJ! After the success of last year’s Tree of Hope Coffeehouse Fundraiser, the Southwest Council will again host this fundraising event in a coffeehouse format. Tree of Hope partners with numerous artists, organizations, treatment facilities, and the larger community to raise funds for local Recovery Support Services. 

Tree of Hope seeks to achieve several objectives:

1st objective: to celebrate our local recovery community and commemorate lives lost to the disease of addiction.

2nd objective: to raise awareness about and funds for local Recovery Support Services

3rd objective: to create connection and combat stigma, while spreading the message that recovery is possible and worthy of supporting! 

Tree of Hope creates a warm, hospitable atmosphere with live music, coffee, food, and a place to come together in celebration as we aspire to be a healthy and whole community free from substance abuse addiction. A unique element of Tree of Hope is the musical artists who carry the tenor of the night. The program is designed primarily around music and letting the commonality of music add to the anthem of recovery. At this year’s Tree of Hope we will publicly install 14 newly trained peer recovery coaches! 

There are two ways we are asking for support: 

Share: spread the word about the coffeehouse for a sober, fun Friday night event! 

Give: in some meaningful way; whether money, time or offer your talents.

While there is no fee to attend the coffeehouse, registering for a ticket will help give an accurate headcount. All voluntary donations benefit support recovery services, like sustaining the volunteer recovery coaches. Attendees can donate by purchasing commemorative ornaments to write names of their loved ones  to honor those suffering from addiction, in recovery, or whose lives were lost to overdose. There will also be additional opportunities to give throughout the night. 

We hope you will join us!

Flu Shots & Fall Cleaning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 5, 2017

In an effort to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs, the SCRATCH & CCHCC Coalitions have partnered with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s office, as well the Cumberland County Department of Health to provide a safe medication disposal site at a number of the flu clinic locations this season.

Project Medicine Drop is an important part of the solution to help reduce substance abuse within our area by providing a safe, secure location to dispose of unwanted medications. It is well known that the abuse of prescription painkillers can be every bit as dangerous as the abuse of illegal drugs such as heroin, so we are asking our community members to clear out their medicine cabinets of any unwanted prescription drugs to help reduce substance abuse within our community. 

The following dates will serve as flu clinic dates, and community members are encouraged to do some Fall cleaning and bring all unwanted medications to the site where the Sheriff's Department will be on hand with a mobile dropbox to collect and properly dispose of the medications.:

Friday, October 27th 10am-noon DRIVE-THROUGH FLU

Millville Rescue Squad

600 Cedar St.

Millville, NJ 08332

 

Tuesday, November 14th 10am-noon

West Park United Methodist Church

625 Shiloh Pike

Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Proper medication disposal is just one of the many initiatives of the Southwest Council Coalitions whose aim is to reduce substance abuse within Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester counties. Contact Matthew Rudd, Director of Coalitions and Communication for more information about our organization and how we can better serve you. 856-794-1011 x302 or by email at matthew@southwestcouncil.org.

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Healing or Dealing?

After many years of successful mooching, I recently bought a house. Much to my disappointment, the bills have started to roll in and they’re all in MY name. Needless to say, Netflix documentaries have become my singular source of entertainment (read: I’m using my dad’s Netflix account to avoid a cable bill). This weekend, I watched a particularly relevant docu-drama called Dr. Feelgood which took on the prescription painkiller epidemic and targeted Dr. William Hurwitz, the doctor convicted of narcotics distribution for over-prescribing opiate medication in Virginia.

It turns out, asking physicians to share in the responsibility of preventing prescription drug abuse is not new to the current epidemic. The case of Dr. Hurwitz is an interesting one; he was a physician working with patients in chronic pain, and prescribing alarming doses of narcotic pain medication to these patients. Dr. Hurwitz was aware of the tolerance which builds from narcotics, and would account for this by prescribing higher doses.  For one patient, Dr. Hurwitz was prescribing more than 1,600 pills. Per day.

My recent move and financial frugality (thanks, dad) actually created space for some valuable research questions (you’re welcome, Joe). Should Dr. Hurwitz and others like him be held liable for this kind of prescribing of narcotics? Who is actually to blame for the role prescription medication plays in the heroin epidemic? How should physicians treat the one-in-three people who experience chronic pain?

“Of course he should be held accountable, Jackie!” I can hear you yelling at your computer screen. “1,600 pills per day for one person is criminal!”

Sure, a thousand plus pills per day is probably irresponsible prescribing, but let’s take a closer look at Dr. Hurwtiz’s attitude toward chronic pain and the context for narcotic medication in the 90’s.

First of all, there is no test to verify pain. Physicians ask patients to scale from one to ten the intensity of their pain, but there’s no objective measurement to prove this patient is truly an eight on the scale.  Doctors have an ethical responsibility to do no harm, and allowing a patient to stay at an eight on the pain scale seems to creep into harmful territory. “But, they could be lying! What if they aren’t in pain and they are drug seeking! What if their ten isn’t really a ten?!”

I hear you yelling.

It’s complicated. For a clinician specializing in substance use disorders, any hint at drug seeking behavior becomes therapeutic fodder. For a chronic pain specialist like Dr. Hurwitz, an eight on this scale becomes an assumption of a pretty uncomfortable patient.  Dose is irrelevant” Hurwitz defended. “The right dose is whatever produces tolerable side effects."

It gets even more complicated. In a 1986 groundbreaking study by Portenoy and Foley, 38 patients on opioid analgesics for non-malignant pain were studied to determine if this course of treatment was safe and effective. This study, which is cited often in this debate, found that opioid maintenance therapy is not only safe but a “more humane alternative to the options of surgery or no treatment in patients with intractable non-malignant pain and no history of drug abuse” (Portenoy & Foley, 1986). By the time Dr. Hurwitz got settled in his career, narcotic medication was the gold standard for pain management.

It gets even more complicated. Opiates are incredibly effective in relieving pain, and have always had social consequences. A response to “Narcomania,” the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act essentially forbid the use of opioid medication except in very extreme circumstances. Portenoy’s 1986 paper reassured the community that fears of addiction caused by prescription opioids were unfounded, and that no dose is too high. Thirty years later and wiser, the Federal government issued guidelines recommending opiates be prescribed for no more than 3-7 days (CDC, 2016). It seems that the metaphoric jury is still out about how to responsibly treat chronic pain, and what (if any) role opioid medication should play.

It gets even more complicated. The case against Hurwtiz accuses the doc of prescribing large doses and quantities of narcotic medication, with the express knowledge that his patients were selling, at least in part, their prescription pills. “He crossed the line from a healer to a dealer,” remarked Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Rossi during his closing arguments on April 18, 2007. At least twelve of Hurwitz’s former patients were convicted of drug crimes as of his 2007 trial.  Hurwitz was sentenced to 25 years in prison, which was ultimately overturned (though he was stripped of his medical license).

This part is less complicated. We know more now than we did in the 90’s and we’ve learned a great deal since Portenoy’s 1986 study of 38 pain sufferers. We know that for every one-in-three chronic pain sufferers there are four-in-five heroin users who started with the misuse of prescription pills (ASAM, 2016). We know that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and we know that the opioid epidemic is the driving force behind these overdoses (MMWR Wkly Rep, 2016).  We know that more than 20 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. We know that prescription drug overdose deaths have tripled over the last few years (ASAM, 2016), and we know that these overdose deaths are trending upwards, not down.

We know we have to do something.

With this new information comes a spirit of collaboration among mental health and addiction professionals, physicians, and the community at large. Responsible prescribing and education about what it means to truly “do no harm” are important pieces of a very large and multifaceted puzzle. Conversation, education, and yes, maybe even Netflix documentaries, are vital to this fight against the opioid epidemic.

 
 Jackie Williams,   Clinical Services Coordinator

Jackie Williams, 

Clinical Services Coordinator

 

'Hidden in Plain Sight' returns to Salem County

By Donald Noblett

WOODSTOWN -- The SCRATCH Coalition and Salem County Municipal Alliances for Prevention of Substance Abuse (MAPSA) have partnered to bring another Hidden In Plain Sight awareness presentation to Salem County on Thursday, April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Salem County Vocational Technical School, 880 Route 45, Woodstown.

Hidden in Plain Sight seeks to educate parents, educators, youth workers and other adults about the latest drug trends. It also teaches participants how to spot potential inappropriate youth behaviors that could be taking place right in their own towns.  Participants walk through a mock teenager's bedroom doing their best to spot any item that could indicate inappropriate youth behaviors. There are over 70 items to identify, which may come as a challenge to some participants. Learning how to spot the signs of potential substance abuse empowers local families to proactively protect their homes and loved ones.

Live Healthy Salem County is generously sponsoring the event after adopting it as their spring substance abuse initiative. Cumberland County MAPSA Coordinator Ashleigh Huff and Sgt. Elliot Hernandez from the Salem County Prosecutor's Office will facilitate the two-hour presentation. 

"The SCRATCH Coalition is excited to bring this presentation back to Salem County," said Donald Noblett. "Requests for the Hidden In Plain Sight presentation have continued to come up as I work alongside individuals living and working in Salem County. I encourage any adult to attend the eye-opening program."  

RSVP if you plan on attending, or direct any questions about the Hidden In Plain Sight presentation to Donald Noblett, SCRATCH Coalition Coordinator, donald@southwestcouncil.org856-794-1011, ext. 316, facebook.com/SCRATCHcoalition.

To plan your own Hidden In Plain Sight event contact: Ashleigh Huff, Cumberland County MAPSA Coordinator at ashleighhu@co.cumberland.nj.us or call 856-459-3082.