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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   October 22, 2001


George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

NJDHSS Awards $1 Million in Grants Targeting Club Drug Use,
OxyContin Abuse

TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has awarded $1 million in federal grant money to educate the public, parents and college students about the dangers of "club drug" use and OxyContin abuse.

The New Jersey College Consortium - which is hosted by Rowan University and represents 50 colleges statewide - will receive $790,000 to conduct an awareness campaign on the dangers of "club drugs," such as Ecstasy and others, and of OxyContin, a prescription drug that can be prepared for abuse as an injecting drug.

The remaining $210,000 was awarded to the New Jersey Prevention Network, with agencies in every county, to educate the general public about OxyContin abuse. This is in addition to the $500,000 that was awarded the Prevention Network last July for a "club drug" prevention and awareness campaign aimed at middle and high school students.

"With this $1 million in new money, we now have a comprehensive effort in place to reach all age groups with this message - club drugs and OxyContin can be just as deadly as more familiar drugs, like heroin and cocaine," said acting Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr. MD. "And, unfortunately, club drugs and OxyContin are gaining in popularity."

With the $790,000 grant, the College Consortium is expected to reach some 250,000 college students through a major communication initiative. This will include special presentations, a speakers bureau, and distribution of brochures and posters on campus. Ads also will be placed in college newspapers and on radio stations.

Training sessions will also be held to teach student residential assistants, campus counselors, campus security and local town police how to recognize the symptoms of club drug and OxyContin use to aid in providing effective crisis intervention. A curriculum for their use will be distributed as a part of the training.

With the $210,000 grant, the Prevention Network will develop OxyContin educational materials to complement those already developed on Ecstasy and other club drugs, such as ketamine and GHB. All of these materials are geared to the general public, parents, and middle and high school students. The Network has already developed a curriculum for educators and parents to use, is conducting workshops for the community and policy makers, and has co-sponsored with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration a conference for parents last May.

"The law enforcement community strongly supports the educational efforts that these grants will provide, but we also have to remind college-age New Jerseyans that using, possessing or selling of these drugs has serious consequences," said Attorney General John J. Farmer, Jr. "Anyone caught will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

According to Attorney General Farmer, depending on the quantity of the drugs involved, the penalty for using, possessing or selling of these drugs could mean between five and 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.

While clubs drugs are popular with teens and young adults, OxyContin tends to appeal to a broad range of age groups, particularly those who already inject heroin.

OxyContin, which is prescribed for people suffering chronic pain, can be prepared for injection and delivers a "high" similar to that of heroin. It can become addicting, requiring larger and larger doses to get high and stave off withdrawal symptoms. Eventually, a person could suffer a lethal overdose. The number of emergency room visits related to OxyContin use more than doubled in the last three years, from more than 5,200 in 1998 to more than 10,800 in 2000.

Ecstasy can result in excessively high body temperatures causing extreme dehydration and even death. It also poses a threat of brain damage and stroke, along with depression and psychological addiction. In 2000, more than 1.4 million people ages 18 to 25 reported taking Ecstasy at least once, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Both types of drugs can lead to criminal behavior to support the drug use.

The $1 million in grants announced today is in addition to the $6.6 million in grant money the department's Division of Addiction Services uses for substance abuse prevention services. Another $80 million in grant funds is used to provide treatment services. For more information about drug treatment services in the state, call (609) 292-8949. For more information about prevention programs, including those aimed at club drugs and OxyContin, call (609) 984-9897.

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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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