HOWELL – As part of a community overdose awareness campaign, the Howell Municipal Alliance and the Howell Police Department have released an “overdose map” which details drug overdoses that occurred in the township from 2015-20.
The map, which was put together by the New Jersey National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, was released this month in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, which will be marked on Aug. 31, according to a press release.
The map indicates the approximate locations (no exact streets or addresses) of fatal and non-fatal overdoses that took place in Howell from 2015-20. Other information includes Narcan (naloxone) deployments and overdose numbers by gender, according to the press release.
While most overdoses that are displayed on the map involve opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, other drugs such as cocaine and prescription medications, as well as mixtures of substances, are also represented.
A digital version of the map is posted at http://www.twp.howell.nj.us/596/Howell-Overdose-Map
Howell Police Capt. John Storrow worked closely on the map project and said, “All communities have overdoses. Howell chooses to be transparent with our town’s data to educate our community and create awareness.
“These are community members and neighbors. By using the Project Medicine drop box that is available 24 hours a day in our police department lobby, (individuals) can make a difference by stopping unused medications like prescription pain relievers from getting into the wrong hands.
“Most misused prescription drugs actually come from family, friends and home medicine cabinets,” Storrow said.
The Project Medicine drop box at the Howell Police Department has collected 235 pounds of unwanted medication in the first two quarters of 2021, according to the press release.
The police department will dispatch an officer for an at-home pick-up of unwanted medication for individuals who cannot get to police headquarters. To schedule a pick-up, call 732-938-4111.
Howell Municipal Alliance Coordinator Christa Riddle said, “It is important to remember that each red circle and yellow triangle on the map symbolizes a human life – neighbors, loved ones and friends who may be struggling with substance use and mental health disorders without us even knowing.
“By acknowledging that substance use and mental health disorders impact everyone and by coming together as a community to support one another, we can reduce the stigmas that prevent people from seeking help.
“Families can make a difference by properly disposing of unwanted medications and by starting conversations with youth early on about substance use, mental well-being and decision-making.
“Individuals can also be prepared to save a life by recognizing overdose signs, immediately calling 911 and learning to administer Narcan,” Riddle said.
Visit http://www.twp.howell.nj.us/alliance for proper unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication disposal options, substance use and mental health support services, and behavioral health information.
Upcoming Narcan training (with a free Narcan kit), quarterly updates about overdose and Project Medicine statistics, and Overdose Awareness Day activities are posted on the Friends of the Howell Alliance Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/howellalliancefriends
For more information, contact Christa Riddle at 732-938-4500, ext. 4012, or email firstname.lastname@example.org