Mercer Council News

Keep up to date with our news and activities

ASYSST is open!

Great news! We are finally moved into our new space. The Available School Youth Service Support Team (ASYSST) was previously located outside the school in an adjacent building, and has moved inside the school!!  We could not be more excited to be conveniently located.  It makes us feel more involved with the school and the Students.  The transition was not an easy one, yet we pushed through and are adjusting quite well.

ASYSST has started some new groups, which we ave very excited about. They are the Black Student Alliance (BSA), the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).  ASYSST also has plans to run a Girl’s group called Sisters of a New Generation (SONG), a Boy’s group called Brothers of a New Direction (BOND) and a college prep group. We have a lot in store for the Students and are looking foward to an awesome year!

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First Chess Fest Event for Youth in Trenton October 20th

On Saturday, October 20th, Mercer Council will be co-sponsoring the first Chess Fest event for youth in Mercer County at the YMCA of Trenton.  Chess Fest is a family fun event whose primary goal is for children to develop an interest in an activity that engages their minds and lowers the chances thay they will engage in unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse and violence.  Chess helps children learn valuable life lessons including strategic thinking, delayed gratification and conflict resolution skills.  More than just an enjoyable game, chess is a healthy activity that aids in the development of logic, reasoning and problem-solving abilities, memory and concentration, visualization skills, critical thinking, patience and determination.

Chess masters and experts from around the area will play simultaneous chess games with children particpating in the event for awards and medals.  Instruction will be given for those youth who do not know how to play the game and free chess sets, boards and tee shirts will be distributed to the first 100 children to register. Youth in grades K - 12 that go to school in Mercer County are eligible to register for this free event.  Families are invited to join the festivities and watch the featured event:  The Human Chess Game, which will begin about 12:30pm.  This unique and fun event features children and chess experts as actual playing pieces on a life-sized chess board!  The event is co-sponsored by The New Jersey State Chess Federation, The Mercer County Prosecuter's Office, Thrivent Financial and the YMCA of Trenton. Register Here

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September is Pain Awareness Month

This September, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is observing Pain Awareness Month to educate and empower people living with chronic conditions that cause pain. Along with the many valuable opioids abuse resources on our website, we'd like to share with you additional information about pain management and how physician anesthesiologists can help safey and effectively manage pain from surgery, injury or chronic conditions.   If you are dealing with pain, we want to give you even more high-quality information straight from physician anesthesiologist, pain medicine specialists who are especially skilled and experiends in taking care of people with chronic pain.

Please take a few moments to look at the links below, it might make a world of difference for you or a loved one!

Chronic Pain: https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/types-of-pain/chronic/Opioid Abuse: https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/opioid-treatment/opioid-abuse/Opioid Treatment and Risks: https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/opioid-treatment/Non-Opioid Treatment: https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/non-opioid-treatment/
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40th Anniversary Benefit was a Success!

sign Thank You

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, I can not say it enough.  What a success we have had for our first Benefit Luncheon and Silent Auction!  We were able to raise more than $1000 for the Geetha Arulmohan Schollarship. 

Thank you to all who helped, attended, donated, and shared.  Here are a few photos from our event.

Jocelyn Cooper, Executive Director 

Antonia Lewis, Board Member

Nora Kashinsky, Retired Mercer Council

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Save the Date for Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day October 6th

Volunteers Sought For “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” October 6th

Volunteers are needed to participate in a “feet on the ground” grass roots effort to educate medical professionals and the public on the dangers of opiate abuse during a statewide initiative on October 6th called “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day.”

“This statewide event is geared to educating medical professionals about the opiate addiction epidemic and what solutions are available,” said Barbara Sprechman, a coalition coordinator for Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. 

Sprechman said volunteers will be visiting doctors’ and dentists’ offices to promote the Centers for Disease Control guidelines about how medical professionals can safely prescribe opiate-based drugs.

“Whenever possible, medical professionals should be encouraging their patients to start with over-the counter pain medications to relieve their symptoms before prescribing opiate-based drugs.  Rather than prescribing 40 Percocet after wisdom teeth extraction, tell them to try Advil and prescribe only two or three pills.  Adolescents who are prescribed opioid pain killers are more prone to addiction later in life.”

If a teenager is prescribed opiate drugs before high school graduation, it raises the risk of future opioid abuse by 33 percent, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey.  The organization also stated that in 2012, health care professionals wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, which is enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. 

Sprechman said that the October 6th event is a grass roots effort to bring awareness of the opiate addiction, with people going door-to-door to medical offices around the county and also throughout the community.    “We want volunteers to collect the informational materials and then distribute them in their neighborhoods, their local gyms, everywhere!” 

For those interested in volunteering in Mercer County, please contact Barbara Sprechman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for materials.  Thank you for spreading this important message!

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Narcan Training September 20th

The Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams has stated that "knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life". 

Every quarter, Mercer Council and the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County partners with JSAS HealthCare, Inc. to provide Narcan (naloxone) training to anyone interested in this lifesaving medication. This quarter, our training will be held on September 20th at 6 PM. This free training is offered to anyone in the community ages 15 and up, and is particularly important for anyone who is or is associated with someone who is taking prescribed opioids, uses opioids such as fentanyl or heroin, or is in the healthcare industry.  We encourage anyone who is concerned with a loved one, works with at-risk populations, or is just curious to understand how this medication works to attend this training.  This interesting, quick-paced class is less than an hour and a half long, and everyone who receives the training will leave with a kit containing a 4mg dose of Narcan, and instructions on how to refill their supply if needed. Registration is requested, as supplies are limited to the first 30 participants. Please register through our EventBrite here: Narcan Training Sept 20

Mercer Council is a provider and partner in prevention for over 40 years, and with the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County, they continue to provide and diversify prevention education throughout Mercer County.

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Day of Remembrance- IOAD Event

One of my first assignments at Mercer Council was the 2nd Annual International Overdose event, held last year in Hamilton. I received all of the registration calls, and with those calls, came stories of questioning, heartbreak, and hope.  I heard stories of sons and daughters taken too soon; of a young father leaving behind 2 and 4-year-old sons; a young girl experimenting for the first and last time, and some families who were hoping to never see their loved one overdose, but were worried and wanted support.This year, the township of Robbinsville hosted this event, and they took care of the registration.  I was disconnected from some of the stories, but they still made their way to me.  A son of a businessman gone, leaving his father to fight to educate others so they would never experience a loss like he did; a talented artist who, after his own recovery journey, is fighting to keep his daughter alive through her addictions, and many more.  On Tuesday, August 28th at this year’s event, Mark Manning, father of the late Christopher Manning, spoke about being part of “a club no one ever wants to be a part of”- the club of parents and family members left behind when their loved one dies of an overdose. Director Pedro Medina of the Trenton Police Department touched everyone in the audience with his perspective- both as part of the law enforcement community, and as a part of the “club”.  Director Medina spoke personally about the loss of his son and the impact on his life and family that this loss caused.  His son’s addiction started by using legally prescribed pain medication after a surgery.  This led to finding street drugs to feed his addiction, which eventually took his life- and breaking the hearts of those he left behind.  Adrienne Petta, a recovery warrior, and now Certified Peer Recovery Specialist spoke about her journey to recovery and her efforts to help others onto this path.  In addition to this year’s personal speakers, this event brought many powerful and influential policymakers and law enforcers.  Among the speakers were Congressman Chris Smith, the Prosecutor of Mercer County, Angelo Onofri, the Mayor of Robbinsville Dave Fried, NJ Senator Linda Greenstein, and Robbinsville Police Chief Chris Nitti. These speakers discussed what their role is in combatting substance abuse in the community- whether making laws to prevent the spread of dangerous substances or assisting those that have patterns of drug misuse find treatment instead of going straight to criminal proceedings.     In regards to helping stop the flow of people with addiction to prison, Chief Nitti stated that we can no longer “arrest our way out of this epidemic”.  Mayor Fried went into greater detail, describing the CARES program that began in Robbinsville, and now is available in all municipalities of Mercer County. This program offers alternatives to arrest through treatment and recovery. After the speakers, the group lit candles and followed a path lit by luminaries to a circle of remembrance.  Here loved ones could share their stories and remember those they love and lost. Family members, friends, and loved ones entered the circle of luminaries and expressed their experiences and feelings, while others reflected on the many emotions evoked by this evening.  The vigil ended with singing Amazing Grace.

This event was informative, moving and motivating. While the observation of International Overdose Awareness day offers hope, healing and encouragement, one of the most important things brought forward at this event is that those who have died from overdose were so much more than their death: these were children, husbands, and wives, who had talents, relationships, passions and experiences before their death was defined by overdose.  Events like these can only remind all of us of the individuals who are struggling with the disease of addiction, and help shatter the stigmas that are often placed on them.  

 

The official International Overdose Awareness day is August 31st. Mercer Council, the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and the Prosecutor’s office have sponsored 3 annual observances under the One Voice Initiative.  These observances are held during the last week of August and will be in different municipalities every year.  This event includes many vendors in the addiction services and related fields that offer information and services to attendees.  

 New Jersey Strong released a video on our event- Further coverage was provided by WBCB News http://www.wbcbnews.com/blog/community-park-in-robbinsville-hosts-overdose-awareness-day/  We are also grateful to Brian McCarthy for his photo and video coverage of the event.  The Prevention Coalition and the Mercer Council are also providing a free Narcan (naloxone) training where one can be trained on the use of Narcan, and receive a dosing kit of this opioid reversal drug.   For more information, please contact Malissa Arnold at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and please follow the Prevention Coalition on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PCoMC  and subscribe to our blog at https://www.mercercouncil.org/news/blogger to learn more about several programs, classes, and events that we host monthly.  
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40-years-strong

Mercer Council is celebrating its 40th Anniversary!

Please join us on Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 from 11:30am to 1:30pm at Leonardo's Restaurant in Lawrence Township and help us celebrate 40 years of service directed at building a healthier, safer and more responsible community! Our event will include a delicious full lunch and an opportunity to participate in our silent auction, which is a great opportunity to win a variety of amazing prize baskets and items.  If you would like to support our agency, mission and vision for the community, please purchase a ticket to this celebration!  Ticket purchases will help us to continue providing prevention education programs to individuals of all ages, as well as provide scholarships for individuals looking to get into the field of substance prevention, counseling, etc.  To purchase a ticket, please contact Lisa at (609) 3965874 x. 201.  If you can't make it to our event, but would like to donate, you may make a donation on our website here.  We appreciate your support and look forward to celebrating with you!

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Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and The Mercer Council Awarded Drug-Free Communities Continuation Grant

The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County has just received a Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program continuation grant to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.  The DFC program, created by the DFC Act of 1997 is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use and is directed by the Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Grants are provided to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

“Since our first grant awards were made in 1998, the DFC Program has continued to expand its reach in communities across the country.  It is a testament to the great work DFC coalitions are doing, together with community partner that include parent groups, schools, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, businesses, and others to prevent drug use and improve the health of communities,” said ONDCP Deputy Director James W. Carroll. “Our local DFC coalitions are a key part of this effort because they are relentless in their work to prevent youth from initiating drug use and ultimately, saving more lives.”

“For the past six years, our Coalition has been working hard to reduce youth substance use in communities throughout Mercer County. With the continuation of DFC support program funding, we will be able to continue this important work and keep our youth healthy and drug-free” said Barbara Sprechman, Assistant Executive Director of Mercer Council and Coordinator of the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County. 

The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County target priorities are underage drinking, prescription drug misuse, illegal use of marijuana and new and emerging drugs.   Past accomplishments of the coalition include helping to establish permanent medicine take-back boxes in every police department in the county, hosting educational forums on current drug-trends, best-practice approaches to combat the current opioid epidemic, as well as advocating for changes in policies and laws.  Prescription drug abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives.  DFC’s 2017 National Evaluation End-of-Year report found that at least 97% of middle school and 94% of high school report that they have not misused prescription drugs in the past 30-days in DFC communities.

The Prevention Coalition of Mercer County is a group of diverse individuals from the community dedicated to the prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse problems.  The mission of the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County is to reduce substance abuse in youth and across the lifespan by collaborating resources and coordinating planning in order to offer opportunities for building a healthy mind, body and spirit for all residents of Mercer County.

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September 17-23, 2018 is National Child Passenger Safety Week!

As the start to the new school year approaches, it is important to ensure all children are buckled up, seated properly in vehicles, and are aware what to do to protect themselves if they ever find themselves riding in a vehicle with an unsafe driver. The image below contains safe riding tips for children. In the event a child finds him or herself riding with an unsafe driver, it is crucial to tell a trusted adult immediately about any unsafe ride.  For more information about Child Passenger Safety, please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Child Passenger Safety Information

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Trenton Community Day 8/25

2018-community-day

For the 4th year, Mercer Council will be co-sponsoring the Fathers and Men United for a Better Trenton (FAMUBT) annual Community Day. This is a free event open to all Mercer County residents with lots of free food, entertainment, community vendors, and, of course, backpack giveaways for students.

Come out this Saturday, August 25th from 11am to 7pm for this great event located at Cadwalder Park in Trenton, NJ.  

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National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month. What does this mean? Well, it means that this is a time each year that gets attention to all those people in and/or supporting someone else in recovery. Addiction affects millions of people; in fact in 2014 alone, 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder (National Survey on Drug Use and Health). It is very easy to only focus all of one's energy and attention to all those afflicted; however, recovery does exist for millions of Americans and millions more worldwide! September is a time dedicated to breaking the stigma of who the addict is and allow for time to embrace and celebrate those who have overcome and fight everyday to maintain their own personal sobriety. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles...these are the people we are talking about; people who have come from such destruction to themselves and others around them and have miraculously become healthier, stronger, wiser, and more productive people.

One of the main events during National Recovery Month are the nationwide reocvery walks. 

New Jersey's is Saturday, September 15th @ Liberty State Park in Jersey City beginning at 11 am

Saturday, September 22 Mercer County hosts the Run/Walk to Recovery @ Mercer County Park beginning at 9 am. For more information or to register click here    

Last year I attended the recovery walk in Philadelphia and it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had as a person in recovery and as a person in general. Over 27,000 people attended. Being around friends and other people in recovery, walking like a sea of hope in the streets was an amazing site to see and experience. Hope needs to exist for recovery to be possible. Unity needs to exist for recovery to continue. 

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International Overdose Awareness Day event to be held on Tuesday, August 28th in Robbinsville

IOAD-image

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held one day during the last week in August each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. This is a beautiful, powerful, meaningful evening and a wonderful way to show your support and love for those affected by addiction.

In coordination with the Mercer County Prosecutor’ s Office and the Mercer County Prevention Coalition, Robbinsville Township will be hosting this special evening of awareness and remembrance. The event will be held at Community Park on Manor Way and Gordon Road.  It will begin at 5:30pm and conclude at 8:00pm.

The evening will include guest speakers, vendor tables, a commemorative shoe display (please feel free to bring a pair of shoes worn by or symbolic of lost loved one) and a memory picture table. The evening will conclude with an interactive candlelight vigil.

Please RSVP to Jodi Stephens (609) 259-3600 Ext. 1102 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to have a vendor table at this event.

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August 2018 Health Observances

OPIOID MISUSE PREVENTION DAY 

Prescription Opioid Drug Abuse is a worldwide epidemic that has plagued The United Statesd from coast to coast. The most abused medications are opiates, or pain relievers such as : oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone,codeine, and percocet. The amount of prescription painkillers prescribed, and sold in the US has substantially increased. The emergency department admissions has seen an influx of patients related to overdoses from prescription painkillers. As the nation becomes more aware and recognizes that opioid abuse is a growing epidemic, The American Medical Association Alliance is focusing efforts and educating physicians, families, and the community about the causes, dangers, and treatments of opioid addiction. August 31,2018 is Opioid Misuse Prevention Day, where we can gain useful tools to better service a population in desperate need of help. For more information Email AMAA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 800-549-4619.

 
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Staff Outing at Trenton Thunder game!

Boom, there goes the Thunder!Mercer Council staff outing to Trenton Thunder baseball game on 8/8/18 

Vanessa DeRosa, Malissa Arnold, Boomer Mascot, Ian Smith, Lisa Kauffman 

Rookie, the bat dog!

Cloudman, Trenton Thunder mascot

Brian Bittings enjoying the game from the stands 

Home team wins!

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National Night Out @ Lawrence Township!

Screenshot-69 Jocelyn Cooper (Executive Director) talking with community members about prevention and the importance of community feedback!

The Mercer Council and Prevention Coalition of Mercer County were proud to be represented at 9 different National Night Out (NNO) locations throughout Mercer County.  National Night Out is an event that seeks to foster and enhance the relationships between neighborhoods/comminuties and various law enforcement agencies.  At the Lawrence Township NNO, Jocelyn Cooper engaged with children, parents, grandparents and other community members about the importance of primary prevention/education in helping people of all ages avoid substance use to keep themselves and those around them safe and healthy.  Each year, the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County asks Mercer residents to provide feedback in the form of community surveys, which provide our agency with valuable information on perceptions surrounding substance use/misuse; this feedback in turn assists the agency and Coalition in more effectively tailoring prevention efforts to this very special, very unique community.  We look forward to next year, where we hope to expand our participation and reach in the community.

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Tackling Opioids Through Prevention Program

Each year, nearly one quarter of the 7.5 million high school athletes in America sustain a sports-related injury. A study of 1,540 adolescents conducted by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, found that participating in high school sports made it more likely that young men had taken and misused an opioid prescription within the last year compared to their non-athlete peers.

Young adults who participate in athletics may be at a greater risk to engage in nonmedical prescription opioid use because of their greater risk of injury or because of a greater opportunity to receive diverted opioid medications from teammates. Several studies have found that youth who are highly involved in competitive sports are at a greater risk of being prescribed opioid medications, misusing opioid medications (e.g., use to “get high”), and being approached to divert (e.g., give away) these opioid medications. A national study found that youth who participated in high-injury sports such as football and wrestling were at greater risk to misuse prescription pain medications. The greater risk to misuse opioid medications may be related to the fact that football players and wrestlers have the highest severe injury rates among high school athletes and may be more likely to have been prescribed opioid medications by a physician. In addition, youth who participate in high-injury sports may be surrounded by peers who are more likely to have leftover prescription opioids, making it easier to receive diverted prescription opioids to ease injuries without having to acknowledge to parents and coaches that they need medical attention (e.g., hiding injuries from coaches to participate).

The Tackling Opioids Through Prevention Program is a statewide initiative with a goal to reduce opioid and other drug use among young athletes.  This four-year initiative is funded by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  Mercer Council and the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County will be implementing this program in Mercer County and will provide educational presentations for specific schools and/or a countywide audience of coaches, parents, prescribers, school nurses, personnel at sports camps and/or young athletes. This initiative will go beyond providing awareness and education by providing a toolkit that will promote specific policy changes that will strengthen the prevention strategies through the use of the CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) strategies for community change.  The materials and technical assistance provided will highlight evidence-based programs, policies and interventions.

We are looking for community partners to bring these timely and critical resources to communities around the county.  For more information, please contact Barbara Sprechman, Assistant Executive Director at 609-396-5874 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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More from our 1st Annual Friends and Family Picnic!

Mercer Council Staff, family and friends group shot.. thanks to Hal Sprechman's camera stand!

Amy Argiriou and family, Gwen Jennings and family!

Vanessa DeRosa and family, Ian Smith, Argiriou Family

Jocelyn Cooper and Lisa Kauffman

Food Tent!

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Mercer Council Celebrates 40th Anniversary at 1st Annual Friends & Family Picnic!

Friends and Family of Mercer Council Staff gathered on 7/22/2018 at Lawrence Village Park, Bergen Street Pavilion to celebrate their history, accomplishments, future and one another.  It turned out to be a beautiful day, despite reports of bad weather.  Staff, family, children and friends enjoyed one another's company over delicious food, refreshing non-alcoholic beverages and a variety of fun, some home made, lawn games!  The event was such a success, that we have decided to hold a yearly picnic as a way to continue celebrating the Mercer Council and those who support us in doing what we do.  We are looking forward to many years of picnics to come... until next time!

 

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CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

cronic_pain

Dangerous Drug Interactions: Please consult your health care provider before using prescription pain medications with other substances. Did you know that according to the CDC, about one half of deaths from prescription pain medications involve the use of at least one other drug? Mixing opioids with other substances can cause dangerous side effects, including breathing trouble, coma and even permanent brain damage or death. If you are taking prescription pain medications, do NOT take the following without first talking to your health care provider:- Alcohol (including beer, wine, and liquor)- Antihistamines (including allergy medications such as Benadryl) - Cough medicine/cough syrup- Barbiturates and benzodiazepines (often used as sleeping pills and sedatives, such as Ambien, Xanax and Valium)- General anesthetics (often used for surgery) For more information on safer, more effective pain management for chronic pain, visit CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center

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