By REBECCA HERSH
During the past 13 months, public health efforts have been focused on COVID-19. But there is another troubling epidemic going on that has been somewhat exacerbated by the pandemic: the drug overdose epidemic.
In 2019, 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, and experts say the situation has gotten worse. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. overdose deaths have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 87,000 people in the United States have died from drug overdoses, primarily related to opioids, through September 2020, according to recent data.
And officials predict that there were likely thousands more due to overdose that were not reported.
That is the highest number of overdose deaths since the opioid epidemic first started in the 1990s, and a setback from the slight drop that the U.S. experienced for the first time in decades in 2018, according to the report.
Edison Township continues to support an infrastructure for fighting drug addiction that has won praise from residents and officials throughout the state.
The Edison Township Municipal Alliance and Youth Services Commission (EMA/YSC), which is a grassroots volunteer organization comprising community leaders, private citizens and human service agency representatives, works to promote and support programs and services to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug addiction, a teen pregnancy, school dropouts, violence and juvenile delinquency.
The commission’s Substance Abuse Resource Center (SARC) was started by the Municipal Alliance from grant funds allocated through the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse through the Middlesex County Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Its purpose is to be a confidential referral source for township residents to assess their need for alcoholism and/or drug abuse treatment.
Residents are referred to the appropriate treatment sources as needed.
The commission works on behalf of the residents by:
- Identifying existing alcoholism and drug abuse resources which are dedicated to treatment, prevention, and substance abuse awareness.
- Providing crisis intervention information/referral and crisis counseling.
- Coordinating prevention and education projects within the community, thus avoiding duplication of services.
- Assessing the continually changing needs of the community and creating new programming to meet those needs.
In addition to offering guidance and resources to residents struggling with addiction, Edison Addiction Services is offering free online opioid overdose training at 6 p.m. May 4. This training will offer education and instruction on prevention strategies to prevent overdose death, including the appropriate administration of the emergency overdose medication naloxone.
To register, contact Holly at 732-248-7295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edison Addiction Services has a Twitter feed (@ServicesEdison), a Facebook page (@Edison.Addiction.Services) that offer some information, but for more information and assistance for anyone struggling with substance abuse, residents can email email@example.com or call 732-248-7295.
Township officials could not be reached for comment by press time.