Thursday, February 18th, 2016

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Daytop New Jersey and the Rockaway Township Substance Abuse Alliance have announced they will hold the “Morris County Heroin Summit of 2016’’ this spring in Rockaway Township.

Heroin summit

A variety of stakeholders will talk about the drug that is overwhelming police, rescue and medical teams across the state and nation at the forum, which is set for Tuesday, April 26, at Christ Church.

“Criminal Justice must take a dynamic approach to this heroin and opiate problem,’’ said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp, who will be one of the featured panelists at the Heroin Summit. “The problem cannot be solved simply with the prison system. While we will vigorously prosecute profit-based drug dealers, we will also prioritize treatment for the addicted drug users.”

Prosecutor Fredric Knapp

Prosecutor Fredric Knapp

“It is essential that we, as a community, become informed about this epidemic and that law enforcement, the medical community, addiction treatment professionals and the community at large discuss this problem and work on solutions to enhance prevention and encourage drug treatment for the addicted,” Knapp added.

Morris County law enforcement officials contend that we are in the midst of a heroin and opiate epidemic, with no state hit harder than New Jersey. Overdose deaths are now the leading cause of accidental death, with more Americans dying every year from overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes.

Addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is the primary factor that is fueling heroin addiction.

Healthcare professionals continue to write 250 million opioid painkiller prescriptions each year. The availability and misuse of prescription opioids combined with the low cost, potent heroin that has become easily accessible, is driving an increased demand for and use of heroin and ultimately claiming the lives of thousands of Americans.

Admission into New Jersey licensed substance abuse facilities has increased dramatically. More people are seeking treatment for addiction than there are available slots at treatment facilities. Our neighborhoods also are plagued with burglaries, thefts and violent crimes as heroin addicts, driven by their addiction, commit these offenses to feed their habit. Morris County is not immune from these staggering statistics.

Heroin can be purchased cheaply and with relative ease in Morris County, according to Prosecutor Knapp. In short, it’s inexpensive, available and, unfortunately, very deadly, as evidenced by the 43 people who died from a heroin or opiate overdose in Morris County in 2015.

Kathy DeFillippo

Kathy DeFillippo

“This conference is a very positive step towards dealing with such a negative substance that is especially plaguing our young people, and also hurting their families and communities,’’ sad Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “It’s vital that we attack this here in Morris County with facts, knowledge and public awareness.’’

Scheduled panelists at the Morris County Heroin Summit of 2016 will address all aspects of heroin use and addiction.

In addition to Prosecutor Knapp, the panel will include Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury, Jim Curtin – President and CEO of Daytop New Jersey, Rockaway Township School Superintendent Greg McGann, former Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) star player Tim Bassett, Daytop New Jersey Medical Director Dr. Gregory Bunt, plus parents and recovering addicts.

While admission to the event is free, registration is required. To register email [email protected] or call 973.627.2465 ext. 434.

For more information on Daytop New Jersey, visit: http://www.daytopnj.org/

For information on addiction services provided in Morris County, visit: http://hs.morriscountynj.gov/addiction/