Barbara's Blog

Lunch and Learn November 8th 12 - 1pm: No More Swiss Cheese - Filling the holes of emotional hurts with love so you regain your wholeness and shine!

Join Joanna K. Chodorowska for this lively discussion of how our emotional situations can become our biggest challenge resulting in symptoms of anxiety, despondency and compulsions.  Joanna will discuss her journey from athlete to exhaustion to business owner learning to release the unresolved and often buried layers of pain.  As we choose "loving", often of ourselves, we are able to fill the holes of pain with love, heal physically, mentally and emotionally so we can step forward into our full authenticity with gusto!  Joanna will share a demonstration of the Path To Heal energy work she uses to help identify and release these often buried emotional issues.

Joanna Chodorowska, BA, NC, TPTH, is a holistic sports nutrition therap[y coach, author and multidimensional healer helping you find balance and whole health - body, mind and soul.  She provides her clients with realistic, real food options that fit into their busy lives.  She helps athletes and non-athletes to become the fierce competitors of their own lives with loving at the core.  

Register for this lunch and learn here:   Register Here 

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Mercer Council and The Prevention Coalition Produce Parent PSA on Teen Brain Development

Research studies have shown that the human brain is not fully developed until some point our mid twenties.  Prevention science teaches us that delaying the first use of any substance until at least the age of 19 can significantly decrease the chances of having a substance use disorder in our lifetime.  These messages are important for everyone to know, however, it is particularly difficult to get this vital information through to parents.   As a Prevention Educator, I know getting in front of a group of parents can be challenging -- everyone's schedule is busy and parents are a difficult audience to pin down. 

This is why we created this PSA to be played in doctor's offices, pediatric dental practices, pediatricians, etc.  While parents are waiting for their child to be seen by a health practitioner, there is often a TV monitor in the waiting room.  What a great opportunity to educate them on the development of the teen brain!   We are excited to roll out this PSA throughout Mercer County and beyond!  Please help us promote it by asking your doctor and dentist to link it to his/her office waiting room!  Knowledge is power and it's also good prevention!

For more information on how to get this video link, please contact Barbara Sprechman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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First Annual Trenton Chess Fest Event

On Saturday, October 20th, Mercer Council and the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County held the first annual Chess Fest event at the Trenton YMCA.  Chess Fest is a family fun event that is free to all Mercer County youth interested in learning or playing chess.  The primary goal of this event is for children to develop an interest in an activity that engages their minds and lowers the chances of them engaging 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.  Not only is it an enjoyable game, chess is a healthy activity that aids in the development of logic, reasoning and problem-solving abilities."  said Hal Sprechman, chess instructor, coach and tournament director.  

Co-sponsored by The New Jersey State Chess Federation, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, Thrivent Financial and The Bank of Princeton, children received free chess sets, boards and carry bags as well as chess tee shirts and fun give-aways.  Lunch was provided and the space to hold the event was generously donated by the Trenton YMCA.  Watch for this annual event same time next year!  For further information on how to get involved in promoting this event for next year, contact Barbara Sprechman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

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

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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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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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