YMCAs located in Middlesex County are introducing a new initiative designed to encourage and support parents in having meaningful and effective conversations with their children to prevent drug use.
The facilities, which are also members of the New Jersey State Alliance, are collaborating with The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. Launching this month, the effort will include information regarding substance abuse, tools such as conversation starters, and resources where families may obtain additional information and counsel.
In New Jersey, high rates of opioid addiction have claimed an estimated 5,000 lives in the past decade, with more people dying in New Jersey in 2016 from drug overdoses than from guns, car accidents and suicides, combined, according to information provided by the YMCA. According to the Office of the State Medical Examiner of New Jersey, there were between 2,090 and 2,250 drug-related deaths overall in New Jersey in 2016, up from 1,587 in 2015, according to the statement.
New Jersey also has the sixth highest rate in the nation of visits to the emergency room due to opioid abuse. And naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, has been administered more than 25,000 times in New Jersey since 2014, according to the statement.
“The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has always encouraged communication between children and their parents and caregivers because it is the most effective way to prevent substance misuse and abuse. With the epidemic levels of opioid abuse impacting our state, the time is now to educate and raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the potential for dependency of prescribed medicine, as well as trends of substances that are abused,” Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Executive Director Angelo M. Valente said in the prepared statement. “Communication between parents and their children is crucial if we are to make inroads in preventing this epidemic and stemming substance misuse in our state.”
Early in 2017, the New Jersey Legislature passed a joint resolution that was signed into law, designating A Night of Conversation in November each year. The purpose of the law is to create awareness about substance use and to help families initiate conversations about drug and alcohol addiction, according to the statement.
“The path from drug use to drug addiction can be quick and intense. Parents need to address it head on with their children. Prevention is not passive. It is an active, earnest undertaking and it starts early and requires regular reinforcement,” New Jersey YMCA State Alliance President David Carcieri said in the statement. “We’ve seen the devastating impact of addiction on families in the communities we serve throughout New Jersey. We believe we can help and we see this role as supporter and community convener as a perfect fit with our mission.”
The plan is multi-phased, with the goal of providing additional assets in the form of print, video and social media materials to make accessible effective resources for families.
“We all know that one person can make a big difference in the lives of children and no one has more of an impact than a parent,” Horizon Foundation for New Jersey Executive Director Jonathan R. Pearson said in the statement. “Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate and that’s why every parent needs to educate and empower their kids by talking to them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. A parent’s love, support and guidance is critical to putting a child on a lifelong path to success, health and happiness.”
For more information, visit www.njymca.org/drugprevention or contact the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge & South Amboy at 732-516-9200 or at www.ymcaofmewsa.org.
Patrons can find their local YMCA by visiting http://www.ymca.net/find-your-y.