Printer-friendly version


Neptune Alliance, January 2023 Prevention Article


Inhalants Abuse

Inhalants are mostly used by children and teens, with about 20% of eighth graders reporting having used inhalants, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) survey. Since they are legal to purchase and possess, easy to access, blend in with everyday items, and don’t cost a lot of money, inhalants are a popular substance for youth to abuse.

Inhalants contain chemical substances that have psychoactive, or mind-altering properties when inhaled through the nose or mouth. Within minutes of inhalation, the user experiences an intoxication similar to that of drinking too much alcohol: slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, dizziness, and drowsiness.

Commonly abused inhalants include markers, glue, rubber cement, deodorant, hairspray, cleaning fluids, air fresheners, disinfectants, correction fluid, compressed air, spray paint, paint thinner, butane, gasoline, shoe polish, whipped cream in canisters, and cooking spray. The intoxication from an inhalant lasts just a few minutes, causing many users to inhale repeatedly for several hours. This can cause a loss of consciousness and/or death by asphyxiation. Some users will put cover their head in a plastic bag to inhale fumes.

While negative effects from short-term use of inhalants may be reversible, damage caused by long-term inhalants use is often permanent. Symptoms of prolonged use are muscle fatigue, confusion, inability to pay attention, irritability, excitability, depression, anxiety, weight loss, convulsions, and damage to the nervous system, heart, and other organs. There may also be trouble in school, such as absences and low grades.

Warning signs of inhalants abuse include paint or chemical stains on the hands or clothing, irritation around the mouth, red and watery eyes, a runny nose, a chemical odor on the breath, drunken behavior, disorientation, dizziness, loss of coordination, nausea, and a lack of appetite.

Learn more about inhalants abuse in the DEA’s “Inhalants” fact sheet:

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse


Neptune Alliance December 2022 Prevention Article
December Is Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month!
Remember, Holiday DUI Deaths Are 100% Preventable!


In 2019, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 210 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (

Over 26 million people ages 16 and older drove under the influence or alcohol and/or illicit drugs during 2019, and 17% of these drivers were 20 to 25 years old, states the U.S. Department of Health’s SAMHSA 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2013, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area data reports that traffic deaths in which drivers tested positive for marijuana increased 135%, while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 24%. This equates to one person killed every 3.5 days in 2019 compared to one person killed every 6.5 days in 2013 (

In addition to alcohol, many substances can lead to driving under the influence (DUI), including marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, stimulants, and even prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Remember, if you feel different, you drive different! It is illegal and potentially deadly to drive under the influence of any substance.

Here are a few life-saving pointer to remember this holiday season—and all year round—when it comes to preventing a DUI tragedy:

  • Before drinking or taking any impairing drug, plan a safe and sober ride home ahead of time through a family member/friend, ride share service, or public transportation
  • Don’t let someone get behind the wheel if they are impaired by any substance; take the keys!
  • If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure all guests have a sober ride home, or let them stay put
  • If you see an impaired driver, call 911
  • Always wear your seat belt–it’s your best defense against impaired drivers

If you or someone you know struggles to stop drinking or using a substance despite the negative impacts and dangers it may cause, help resources are available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) is a confidential, free information service, available 24/7 in English and Spanish. The SAMHSA National Helpline assists individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders by providing referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Learn more about the helpline here:

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse



Neptune Alliance, November 2022 Prevention Article


“One Pill Can Kill!” the DEA Warns People of All Ages

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) “One Pill Can Kill” campaign warns how criminal drug networks are mass-producing counterfeit pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills.

The fake pills are made to look like pharmaceutical drugs such as Percocet®, Xanax®, Adderall®, Vicodin®, and OxyContin®. It can be nearly impossible to tell the difference between illicit and real prescription pills. Drug cartels are also targeting youth on social media with counterfeit rainbow-colored pressed pills that resemble brightly colored candy, right down to their deceptive packaging.

Counterfeit pills are widely available and easy to purchase. They often contain fentanyl or methamphetamine and can be deadly. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids account for about two-thirds of our nation’s 100,306 fatal overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021—the highest overdose rate ever reported for one year in the U.S. Deaths from methamphetamine and other psychostimulants increased almost 50% during this same time period.

Fentanyl is 50-times more potent than heroin. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl—an amount that fits onto a pencil point—can be deadly. The DEA estimates that 4 out of every 10 counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl have a deadly dose. A rainbow fentanyl bust in New York this fall found 15,000 illicit pills hidden in Legos—enough fentanyl to kill 500,000 people.

Early education to build awareness is key, and the DEA urges parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children as young as the elementary school grades to be aware of what they are consuming and to make healthy choices. People of all ages should only take drugs that are prescribed by their doctor specifically for them and filled by their pharmacy.

Learn more about the DEA’s “One Pill Can Kill” campaign at The fact sheet also provides side-by-side comparisons of legitimate versus fake pills.

Adults caring for youth should read the DEA’s public safety alert “What Every Parent and Caregiver Needs to Know About Fake Pills”:

“Emoji Drug Code—Decoded” is another great DEA resource for parents, caregivers, educators, and other influencers to learn how emojis are being used in conjunction with illegal drugs:

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing
Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse


Neptune Alliance, October 2022 Prevention Article

October Is National Bullying Prevention Month!


Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Bullying can be verbal, social, and/or physical.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets.

According to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s statistics, one out of every 5 students in America reports being bullied, almost 50% of tweens (ages 9 to 12 years old) report experiencing bullying at school, and 14.5% of tweens report experiencing cyberbullying (

Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, sleep difficulties, physical ailments, lower academic achievement, dropping out of school, and relationship difficulties ( provides information on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, how you can prevent and respond to bullying, and bullying support resources.

October Is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month!



Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse–including underage drinking and marijuana use, alcohol misuse, abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and street drugs.

Over 100,000 overdose deaths occurred between April 2020 and April 2021–the highest number ever recorded in the U.S. in one year. Over 80,000 of these deaths were due to opioid overdoses—mostly illegally manufactured fentanyl mixed with other illicit drugs.

Any form or substance use—including nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, illicit drugs, synthetic drugs, and prescription medications—can permanently impact youth’s brain development, with the brain developing until at least age 25. Youth and young adult substance use increases the lifetime risk of developing a substance use disorder, a long-term mental health disorder, poor physical health, lowered career and financial achievement, and negative social consequences

Immediate and proper disposal of unused, unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications prevents ease of access to medications and medication abuse by family members, guests, and teens, which can lead to addiction.

For information on safe medication disposal, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medications”:

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse

September 2022 Neptune Alliance Prevention Article
September Is National Suicide Prevention Month

With post-pandemic rises in anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, and substance use across all ages, September Is National Suicide Prevention Month focuses on creating awareness of suicide prevention, mental health support resources, and crisis helplines.

In 2020, 45,979 Americans died by suicide and 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent statistics. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 20- to 34-year-olds and the 3rd leading cause of death for 10- to 19-year-olds in the U.S.

With suicide and mental health/substance use disorders, immediate intervention and professional assistance save lives, as does knowing, recognizing, responding to, and taking seriously the warning signs of suicide.

The warning signs of suicide include

  • talking about dying or death
  • feeling hopeless with no reason to live
  • having a suicide plan
  • expressing great shame
  • feeling trapped without solutions
  • sharing about unbearable pain
  • using alcohol or drugs more often
  • changing daily behavior and grooming habits
  • giving away special possessions
  • withdrawing from family and friends.


Mental Health First Aid and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) trainings, whether completed virtually or in person, provide simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in Mental Health First Aid or QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide or mental health crisis and how to implement strategies to effectively assist someone with getting the help they need. For more information, visit the Mental Health First Aid website at and the QPR website at

It is also important to be familiar with suicide prevention resources to use and share:


Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse

Neptune Alliance, July 2022 Prevention Article

Universal Hand Signal for Help

The “Signal for Help,” also known as the “Violence at Home Signal for Help,” is a universal hand gesture for abuse victims to discreetly reach out for assistance, either remotely during a video chat or call or while in public. The hand signal is a reminder of the power of situational awareness, looking out for each other, and stepping up to help someone during a time of distress.

Folding the thumb across the palm and then closing the remaining 4 fingers down over it is an internationally recognized sign for help due to violence at home or another life-threatening situation. Someone in distress can use the Signal for Help to quietly summons assistance, without the risk of their perpetrator overhearing or finding a digital trace online. The motion can be done over and over again, rather than a single motion held in position that may not be as readily observed.

If someone motions with the Signal for Help in a video chat or call, contact the person using another means of communication (a text, cell phone call, or email) and ask simple yes or no questions so they can respond without tipping off their perpetrator who may be present and listening. Call the police only if the signaler directly asks you to, as it can escalate the situation.  

The Canadian Women’s Foundation created the Signal for Help in April 2020 in response to increased domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic’s social isolation and distancing, when someone may have been forced into isolation with their perpetrator with just brief occasions for remote social contact via video applications.

A female teenager in Kentucky used the Signal for Help through the car window to alert her distress to a motorist driving alongside her vehicle, who immediately called the police for help. Watch this video on how the hand gesture saved the young woman’s life:

For more about the Signal for Help, watch this video:

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse




The Neptune Township Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse would like to extend a huge thank you to all who helped make the seventeenth annual Cops vs. Kids game such a success! 

It was a great event—from pre-event sponsorship to the last out.  The Cops played the kids in a whiffle ball game on June 6 at Neptune High School. The weather was gorgeous, the verbal taunts were flying, and the game was a hoot, with the Cops and Kids enjoying some friendly competition!

Spectators got to join in the fun, and there were prizes for all the kids!

Thanks to Jim MacConchie for organizing the Cops, and to Catherine Crelin for assembling the Kids.

Thanks also to event sponsors, including:  Neptune Police PBA #74, Neptune FOP #19, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Theo’s Demolition & Construction Clean-Up, Impact Auto Body, Bruno’s Italian Deli, MJ’s Restaurant Bar & Grill, McDonalds, Allied Fire & Safety, Uni-Serv, MURC, Neptune Board of Education & High School, the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse, and the Neptune Recreation Department.  Funding for this event is also provided through the Governor’s Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse.

Thanks to everyone who supported the game, and in turn, helps us spread our prevention message to the community.  Be sure to look for our next Cops vs. Kids fundraiser, as I heard there’s a re-match coming!

Dawn Thompson, Recreation Director &Coordinator, Municipal Alliance to Prevent Alcoholism and Drug Abuse





Neptune Township’s ‘Hooked on Fishing’ Event a Huge Catch

The sky was bright, with barely a cloud in the sky, and the pond packed with fish this past Sunday in Neptune, as over 110 youth tried their luck at this year’s 6th annual ‘Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs’ event. The free tournament was held at the Hamilton Fire Company Pond and organized by the Neptune Township Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse, Recreation, Police, and Marina; Bradley Beach Surf Casters; and Ocean Grove Fishing Club.

The fish were biting early, as kids went running to measuring stations all around the pond, operated by volunteers from the Surf Casters and Fishing Club, with fresh-caught bass, catfish, bluegills and sunnies. Everyone was smiling and enjoying the great outdoors as shouts of “I got one!” were heard around the pond with each new catch. Prizes and trophies for biggest catch, provided by the two fishing clubs, were awarded to Skyler W (18oz, 14” catch) in the 1-6 age group, Gavin K. (24.5oz, 13.75” catch) in the 7-10 age group, Marissa P (37oz, 17.5” catch) in the 11-14 age group, and Logan B. (10oz, 11” catch) in the 15-18 age group. Over a dozen other prizes were awarded throughout the event!

For use of the pond, hats, towels, bait, and trophies, special thanks to event sponsors—Hamilton Fire Company, Imperial Healthcare, Seacrest Recovery, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Mike’s Pet Supply, Jody & Jodee’s Fishery, Tony’s Pizza, and The Cone Zone. It was a perfect day for fishing! There were even special appearances made by Mr. Turtle and Ms. Snake!

NJ Department of Environmental Protection designed the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs event to create an interest in safe, healthy, outdoor activities for youth, and Neptune Township is proud to be an event supporter. Look for our 7th annual Hooked on Fishing event next year!!




Neptune Alliance, June 2022 Prevention Article
When Gambling Becomes a Problem

Gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, and problem gambling can happen to anyone. It is when occasional gambling for fun and entertainment becomes an obsessive behavior with serious consequences.

Whether a person bets on professional or college sports, races, scratch-offs, or card or casino games, a gambling problem can strain relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster that leads to running up huge debts or stealing money. Problem gambling can occur with placing bets online and through apps, as well as with betting in person at casinos and tracks.

With compulsive gambling, a person can’t control the urge to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for themselves or loved ones. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts a person’s life. If someone is preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, trying to recuperate from losses, or continuing to gamble despite serious life consequences, they have a gambling problem. Gambling addiction is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, and substance use and mental health disorders.

Overcoming gambling problems starts with acknowledging that you have a problem. Self-help strategies to stop gambling addiction include identifying underlying reasons why you gamble, such as certain situations, behaviors, or emotions that act as triggers; building a supportive network of friends, family, and colleagues who do not engage in gambling; shifting your activities to include new hobbies, sports, or exercise; making meditation and other relaxation practices part of your daily routine; joining support groups like Gamblers Anonymous (see the information below); and seeking professional assistance for underlying mental health issues.

If you or someone you care about may have a gambling problem, the National Council on Problem Gambling Helpline is a confidential, 24/7 helpline for problem gamblers or their family members (800-522-4700 or

There is also support available through the Gamblers Anonymous 12-step program (855-222-5542 or

Article by Christa Riddle, All About Writing

Brought to you by the Neptune Municipal Alliance to Prevent Substance Misuse and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse









Monmouth County

2021-22 Children & Youth
Behavioral Health
Resource Guide

Please CLICK HERE to view this guide


Vaping Disease EVALI Called Attention to E-Cigarette Risks



  • 2,800+ cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI) hospitalizations were reported in the U.S. and its territories
  • 68 EVALI deaths were reported across 29 states and Washington D.C.
  • The median age of patients who died from EVALI was 49.5 years, with an age range  from 15 to 75 years (above numbers reported as of 2-18-2020)

Vaping products with THC proved to be prevalent in the reported cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI). THC was found in most of the tested products, and most patients reported a history of using products containing THC—THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of marijuana that produces the high sensation. Vitamin E acetate was found in FDA- and state-lab-tested product samples, as well as nationwide CDC-tested patient lung fluid samples.

Affected EVALI patients presented a variety of symptoms, including coughing, pleuritic chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and diarrhea. Patients were hospitalized due to a need for respiratory support and ventilation, and all had a history of vaping.

As an immediate response to the initial EVALI outbreak in 2019, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended avoiding use of all e-cigarette and vaping products to eliminate risk. They later amended risk control as refraining from using e-cigarettes specifically containing THC, and that Vitamin E acetate should not be added to e-cigarette or vaping products.

In general, the CDC states that e-cigarette or vaping products with nicotine or THC should never be used by youths, young adults, and pregnant women, and that adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using these products.

Vaping Risks Beyond EVALI

The alarming rise of youth vaping has been, in part, fueled by a lack of parent and youth education regarding the risks surrounding e-cigarettes, before and after the EVALI outbreak. Because vapes resemble familiar school supplies such as pens and flash drives, are easy to conceal, and do not emit the tell-tale odors of traditional cigarettes or marijuana joints, young people are vaping in school, right in the company of their teachers.


After inhaling the vapor, teens exhale into water bottles or their shirts to avoid detection. Adding to the youth vaping epidemic is the fact that the sleek devices and their appealing flavors are marketed in ways that attract teens.


Many youth and adults are unaware of the high nicotine potency delivered by e-cigarettes and refillable vaping devices that allow for customizable nicotine levels that are not regulated. A single Juul-manufactured pod houses the same amount of nicotine as a pack of traditional cigarettes; some youth smoke multiple pods in a day, spiking nicotine addiction that is difficult to stop and can lead to smoking traditional cigarettes. Many teens also vape THC.


Beyond nicotine, e-cigarette “juices,” or liquids, and their vapors contain a host of harmful and unregulated chemicals, including diacetyl, formaldehyde, heavy metals, oils, and volatile organic compounds that can cause permanent lung damage and cancer. Furthermore, the lungs are not inherently equipped to inhale vaporized liquids.


While it is illegal to sell smoking products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, to minors under the age of 21 in New Jersey, it is not illegal for youth under 21 to possess them, which is why parental education and a zero-tolerance for youth e-cigarette use is a necessary component in battling the youth vaping epidemic.


For more information on the dangerous realities of vaping, teens can visit the U.S. Surgeon General’s website “Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes and Young People” at, as well as the interactive website “Behind the Haze” at


For the critical parent education component necessary to help halt this epidemic and its potential for permanent harm to youth, parents can visit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ “How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping” ( Their website also reports the latest news on e-cigarettes and vaping ( ( provides resources for targeted audiences, including teens, on how to quit using electronic and traditional cigarettes.


RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery ( offers a free nicotine and tobacco cessation program for people of all ages to help with quitting electronic and traditional cigarette use.



Is Youth Substance Use Really Influenced by
Parenting, Social Status & Environment?


 “Does Socioeconomic Advantage Lessen the Risk of Adolescent Substance Use?” examines the influence parenting, socioeconomic status, and home and school environments have on adolescent substance use (socioeconomic status measures sociological/economic position—or class standing—based on education, income, and occupation).

The information in the article comes from new and on-going studies that shed light on how environmental risk/protective factors play a part in youth alcohol, drug, and tobacco use.

The studies presented in the article found…

  • Excessive drinking by adolescents is associated with upper-middle-class families and parents who have college degrees and higher incomes
  • Youth marijuana use is more closely associated with its acceptance in the school environment, rather than education or income
  • Youth smoking is associated with socioeconomic disadvantage and less parental education
  • Teen drug/alcohol use is highly predictive of adulthood problems like substance use disorders and is not necessarily outgrown
  • Parental “zero tolerance” rules, open communication, and involvement play key roles in lessening or delaying adolescent substance use risk
  • “Harm-reducing” parental rules aimed at only limiting excessive drinking yielded 150% higher youth alcohol consumption than “zero tolerance” parental rules

An Arizona State University study that followed two groups of students from affluent northeastern suburbs for 10 years (high school to adulthood) identified concerning rates of later substance use in the population who used drugs and alcohol during adolescence. Little evidence was found to indicate that the subjects matured out of substance use.

This same study revealed a rate of non-medical use of prescription stimulants double that of national norms, presented the likelihood of substance use disorder diagnoses that were two to three times above the national average, and showed strict parental rules against substance use delivered in a supportive, nurturing household were a strong protective factor against underage drinking and marijuana use.

Another study based on national adolescent-to-adult health data indicated school-age marijuana use as a significant predictor of use 14 years later. Young adults with more-educated parents were more likely to have used marijuana recently than those with less-educated parents.

While no group is immune from substance use or substance use disorders, different youth are at risk for different reasons, such as higher availability in disadvantaged environments and achievement and popularity pressures coupled with more disposable income in wealthier suburban areas. Affluent parents may also worry less about substance use because they see their children as committed to achieving success— and as youth who would never engage in substance use.

 “Does Socioeconomic Advantage lessen the Risk of Adolescent Substance Use?” can be read in detail at




The Neptune Township Municipal Alliance to Prevent Alcoholism & Drug Abuse is working on a new 5-year plan to incorporate community–wide strategies to combat substance abuse. Join us in the cause to build a healthier, safer community—your ideas and support are welcome & needed.


Municipal Alliance

Dawn Thompson, Alliance Coordinator