'Knock Out Opioid Abuse' Town Hall Series Visits Cherry Hill

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The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is traveling the Garden State to "Knock Out Opioid Abuse" with a town hall series.

On Tuesday, October 3rd, dozens of people gathered to talk about what can be done to end the opioid epidemic at the series' Camden County stop. 

“No matter where you live, whether it’s a suburban, rural or urban area, or whether it’s a poor area or wealthy area, this particular epidemic is impacting everyone," said Angelo Valente, executive director for the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. "Everyone needs to be aware of this issue.” 

That’s why the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey set out to visit every county in New Jersey.

Events like this have to be the beginning to a call-to-action.

The point of the town hall series is to better understand the issue from a local perspective, but also to look at the resources each county has to offer. 

“[The purpose is] to see if we have some really outstanding ways that communities are addressing the opioid epidemic and how we can share those with other counties throughout the state of New Jersey,” said Valente. 

Captain William Townsend, of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, is trying to cut down the availability of opioids by having drug drop-boxes at police departments throughout the county. 

“In fact, the Legislature understands the issue and has been working as long as I can remember on the issue,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones, a Democrat from New Jersey’s 5th District. 

Unity was a common theme throughout the meeting held at the Cherry Hill Public Library. 

“No one organization or provider can do everything," said Naomi Hubbard, executive director and CEO at Camden County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Inc. "Together we can do wonders for our children and our adults on any type of addiction.” 

“I think events like this are really important because it raises awareness and it starts the conversation," said Mariel Hufnagel, executive director of the Ammon Foundation. 

"Events like this have to be the beginning to a call-to-action.”  

Related: Bridgeton City Hall Annex Going 'Purple' to Knock Out Opioid Abuse

Everyone at the town hall meeting was sent home with two things to do as their call-to-action. They were given door hangers to hang up in the community for Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day this Friday, October 6th, and drug deactivation kits. 

“It is not an urban problem [and] it is not a rural problem," said Jones. "It is an American problem."

Jones is hopeful that an open dialogue between multiple parties can be part of the solution to this on-going dilemma.

"Now that we’re talking about it much more openly we’re better able to get a handle on how to fix it and how to pull people away from the insanity of addiction.” 

Watch: 'Road to Recovery' with Michael Deleon

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