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Posted Monday, January 30th, 2017

Parents from Across Morris County Invited to Free Feb. 23 Workshop in Pequannock on Spotting Signs of Teen Drug Use

Stigma Free Morris County: Opiate Abuse Workshop for Parents on Feb. 23As the opioid epidemic grows (with the Governor making the issue a statewide priority for 2017), parents and caregivers from across Morris County are invited to a free workshop, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” that will be held on Feb. 23  in Pequannock and will focus on learning how teens conceal their use of drugs and alcohol.

“This interactive workshop should open parents’ eyes to signs their children may be using drugs without their knowledge,” said Mary Vineis, director of Community Response and Education at nonprofit NewBridge Services, which runs in-school prevention programs and provides addiction treatment. “Items that on first glance may seem innocuous may, in fact, be tools their children are using to ingest drugs or alcohol, or to cover up the use,” Vineis said.

The 90-minute workshop, which is open to all residents, is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains (529 Newark Pompton Turnpike).

“We urge all interested county residents to attend this important session, especially if you are parents of teenage children who are now facing peer pressure and more adult-type situation,” said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, who works closely with county Human Services agencies and addictions programs. “You may be surprised by what you learn.”Stigma Free Morris County: Opiate Abuse Workshop for Parents on Feb. 23

“Parents, grandparents, caregivers and other adults will get to explore a mock teenager’s bedroom, to learn to identify drug paraphernalia and hiding places, along with other signs that may indicate alcohol or other drug use by a teen,” said Phyllis Minicuci, project coordinator of the Pequannock Township Coalition and a prevention specialist at Morris County Prevention is Key.

The event is sponsored by Community Partners for Hope, a coalition of 11 community groups and houses of worship committed to raising awareness about the opioid addiction crisis. Presentations will be made by the Pequannock Township Coalition and the Pequannock Police Department.

Within the past month, more than three out of 10 high school seniors report drinking some alcohol and one in six have engaged in binge drinking. By 12th grade, about half of adolescents have abused an illicit drug at least once, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Drug overdoses claimed more than 1,500 lives in New Jersey in 2015, an increase of 21 percent from 2014, with heroin deaths accounting for 918 of them, according to the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office. Nationwide, the number of opioid-involved deaths has more than quadrupled since 1999.

Substance abuse trends, signs, symptoms and lingo will be explained at the workshop. “By becoming aware of the signs, parents can intervene sooner,” said Doug Cook, a past president of the Pequannock Valley Rotary who helped organize the workshop. Pequannock police will have its mobile drop box so residents can safely dispose of unused/expired prescription drugs.

“Hidden in Plain Sight” is the second workshop in a series of programs. Adults only may register for “Hidden in Plain Sight” at An April 3 program at Pequannock High School will feature former Boston Celtics player Chris Herren, who overcame heroin addiction.

Stigma Free Morris County: Opiate Abuse Workshop for Parents on Feb. 23Morris County has created a Stigma-Free movement that is dedicated eradicating the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and encourage county residents to seek programs and services that foster recovery. Part of that effort includes understanding the causes and symptoms of addiction illnesses and fostering recovery.

Ten Morris County towns, including Boonton, Denville, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Madison, Morris Plains, Morris Township, Rockaway Borough and Rockaway Township, have signed on as participating Stigma Free communities in Morris County. The Board of Freeholders in 2016 passed a resolution designating Morris County as a Stigma-Free County and asked the county’s 39 towns to consider enrolling.

Morris County has created a Stigma Free website to call attention to the initiative, provide information and resources, and a calendar of upcoming events related to mental illness and substance abuse. A Stigma Free Toolkit also has been created.

Morris County’s goal in creating a Stigma Free initiative is to disseminate information and foster a stigma-free environment where people are free from judgment and can get the help they need to recover.


Community Partners for Hope is a not-for-profit corporation that addresses important issues facing communities. The goal for this series of programs is to educate members of tour communities about drug addiction (especially heroin and other opiates) and to introduce them to resources, so they have places to turn for help.

The following organizations are supporting this important initiative: Chilton Medical Center; First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park and Montville; Holy Spirit Catholic Church; NewBridge Services; Pequannock Municipal Alliance; Pequannock Township Coalition; Pequannock Valley Rotary; Suburban Woman’s Club of Pompton Plains; The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Saviour; and W/HIM Women’s Hands in Mission. Email [email protected] for more information.