Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon: No Age is Immune From An Opioid Addiction

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano on June 11 enlightened a lively Randolph Township Seniors Club on the dangers of opioid dependency and the Office’s mission to save lives from the grip of heroin.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Sheriff's Office Corporal Erica Valvano at a presentation June 11 to the Randolph Seniors Club on the opioid epidemic.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano at a presentation June 11 to the Randolph Seniors Club on the opioid epidemic.

Invited by Seniors Club member Barbara Anderson to address the monthly meeting of the Seniors Club, Sheriff Gannon provided an overview of his Hope One mobile outreach program. Hope One has made 279 stops within Morris County since April 3, 2017, in areas known to be populated by homeless or at-risk groups and steered people to treatment services.

Since its debut, Hope One’s staff, overseen by Corporal Valvano, has made contact with 7,147 people, trained 1,759 people in the use of Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose, and directed at least 228 people to recovery, rehab or mental health services.

The presentation was attended by Randolph Township Health Educator Kristine Wilsusen who said senior citizens need to be as educated as younger people about the perils of opioid use.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club after his presentation on the opioid epidemic in Morris County on June 11.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club after his presentation on the opioid epidemic in Morris County on June 11.

“The elderly think this kind of thing doesn’t happen to them but they’re wrong,” Mrs. Anderson said.

Sheriff Gannon told the crowd that Hope One has a stigma-free approach to encounters with everyone who stops at the resource and recovery vehicle, and deaths by opioid overdoses in Morris County and the state affect people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Morris County Sheriff's Office Corporal Erica Valvano speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club about the opioid crisis and other programs offered by the Sheriff's Office.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club about the opioid crisis and other programs offered by the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve seen deaths in the last three years in Morris County from age 13 to people in their late 70’s. This is not necessarily a kid problem,” Sheriff Gannon said. The majority of people dying in Morris County by overdose started out using opioids as painkillers, he said.

Corporal Valvano distributed literature about other Sheriff’s Office’s programs, including Project Lifesaver and the Prescription Drug Drop Box Program.  Project Lifesaver is a program under which vulnerable people – those with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, Down Syndrome, Autism, and cognitive disorders and disabilities, and are fitted with a bracelet or anklet that has a transmitter attached that emits a signal police can track if a person goes missing.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club after his presentation on June 11 to the group about the opioid epidemic in Morris County.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks to members of the Randolph Seniors Club after his presentation on June 11 to the group about the opioid epidemic in Morris County.

Corporal Valvano stressed to Randolph Seniors Club members the value of the Prescription Drug Drop Box Program for properly disposing of unused or expired prescription medications to avoid the chance of the drugs being stolen or misused by others with access to them.