Each month, we will spotlight coalitions from across the country and throughout Florida that have begun to see noteworthy reductions in the number of overdose deaths. This month we looked at New Jersey’s Office of Drug Monitoring and Analysis. New Jersey is one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to reducing the number of deaths from opioid overdose.
By the end of the year, New Jersey will have a 15.87% decrease in drug-related deaths over the past two years. This decrease places them at a level not seen since before fentanyl hit their communities. To share how his coalition assisted in turning the tide on the overdose epidemic in communities across New Jersey, we were joined by Captain Jason Piotrowski.
Jason was an original member of the New Jersey Fusion Center and, beginning in 2014, he developed the New Jersey Drug Monitoring Initiative, where he currently serves as the Unit Head of the Office of Drug Monitoring and Analysis. In this position, he oversees the collection, analysis, intelligence production, and training and outreach efforts specifically focused on the overdose epidemic and reducing community drug harm.
Before his presentation to our Leadership and Stakeholder Coalition, we spoke about the Live Tampa Bay Coalitions and his work in New Jersey. Here are some quick excerpts from our conversation:
Jennifer: We are just a two-year-old coalition that began our work in earnest over the past year. What is most important for us to know?
Capt. Piotrowski: It takes time. We have been meeting for a decade. And, it took us years of sharing our data and showing up for others to build up the kind of trust among committee members that leads to a real impact on outcomes.
Jennifer: What do you think really helped you to wrap your collective arms around the opioid epidemic within your state?
Capt. Piotrowski: Using OD Maps as an entire state. OD MAPS stands for Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. A few years ago when this was a new tool, New Jersey had the overwhelming majority of accounts with OD Maps. We bought in early and it helped us to coordinate our efforts as a state, from both a law enforcement and public health response.
Jennifer: What one thing should Live Tampa Bay, as a regional coalition, focus on to have the biggest impact?
Capt. Piotrowski: Sharing data on who is dying, where, and when. And, getting this out to people as quickly as possible. From my perspective, which is informed by my background in law enforcement and my advanced degree in public health, keeping people from dying and preventing people from turning to drugs are the top two priorities for combating this crisis. Without real time information about who is overdosing where, we are limited in the impact that we can make on that top priority.
To hear Capt. Piotrowski’s full presentation, check out this 40-minute video.