Hamilton Community Response Plan Efforts in Schools Combats Opioid and Substance Abuse, E-Cigarette/Vaping
Office of the Mayor reports 3.27.2019 Hamilton, NJ: With an emphasis on opioid and substance abuse, as well as the alarming increase in e-cigarette or “vaping” use by U.S. teens, Hamilton’s Community Response Plan is continuing efforts in the town’s public schools this week.
In 2016, Mayor Kelly Yaede introduced a proactive community response plan to address heroin/opioid issues. The collaborative effort was built on partnerships with the County Prosecutor’s Office, Hamilton’s Public School District, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – Hamilton, Hamilton’s Health Department and organizations like The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation (TOPAC), the Mercer Council on Alcoholism & Drug Addiction and Steered Straight.
As part of the program, the Hamilton Township Municipal Government provides guest speakers to address students during their drug awareness weeks in school and by supplementing existing drug and alcohol curriculum with an additional emphasis on heroin and opioids. This is in addition to the ongoing efforts of the Hamilton Township Public School District.
“Through our Community Response Plan, Hamilton Township is sending a clear message to our young adults – that we want them to make healthy lifestyle choices that avoid substance abuse,” says Mayor Kelly Yaede.
- Combatting Opioid and Substance Abuse
As part of this year’s program, Hamilton secured the assistance of local non-profit organization, Recovery Advocates – a peer to peer center that provides addiction education, tools for recovery and works to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. The organization addressed students at each of Hamilton’s three public high schools and focused upon the important issues of opioid and substance abuse, as well as recovery efforts.
- Addressing Rising in E-Cigarette/Vaping Use
To address the alarming increase in teen e-cigarette or “vaping” use, Hamilton’s Community Response Plan also educated students on this serious health issue, thanks to the efforts of Steered Straight – a non-profit organization that conducts educational programs and provides materials for youth, families and communities. The organization reaches youth with real-life examples of negative consequences that resulted from making poor decisions and encourages making positive life-choices. Steered Straight speakers spoke at Hamilton High School West and at Steinert High School.
E-cigarette or “vaping” use among middle and high school students increased significantly between 2017 and 2018 according to data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Between that timeframe, there was a 78 percent increase (from 11.7 percent in 2017 to 20.8 percent in 2018) in high school students using e-cigarettes at least once in the past 30 days. Over the same timeframe, there was a 48 percent increase (from 3.3 percent in 2017 to 4.9 percent in 2018) of middle school students using cigarettes at least once in the past 30 days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, risks associated with e-cigarettes include facts that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – which is highly addictive and known to harm brain development through the early to mid-20 age group, may also contain other substances that are harmful to users and the likelihood that smoking e-cigarettes may actually increase young people smoking cigarettes in the future.
- Former NFL Superstar Completes Tour of Hamilton’s Public Schools
Also as part of Hamilton’s effort, former NFL superstar – and Trenton native — Vance Johnson will complete his tour of Hamilton’s three public high schools by addressing Nottingham High School students later this week. In past years, the former Denver Broncos’ star spoke at Hamilton West and Steinert and focused his remarks on overcoming his own, personal struggles with substance abuse. Previously, Johnson spoke at the 2nd annual county International Overdose Awareness Day program, which took place in Hamilton’s Veterans Park.
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