Department of Human Services

NJ Human Services Awards Contract to Create Substance Use Prevention Awareness Campaign Aimed at Youth and Young Adults

February 22, 2023

(TRENTON) – Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the Department has awarded a contract to develop an evidence-based risk messaging campaign to help reduce substance use rates among youth and young adults.

The Department awarded a $1 million contract to New Jersey Prevention Network (NJPN) to develop and distribute risk messaging assets tailored to youth, young adults, parents, caregivers and communities across the state. Risk messaging aims to share information that is vital to saving lives, protecting health and minimizing harm to self and others.

“Young people may not fully comprehend the risks they take when they engage in underage substance use, or experiment with illicit substances or prescription medications that are either intended for someone else or not taken as prescribed. Through this effort, we hope to educate and raise awareness about the hazards of misusing these substances and the potential long-terms effects to help young New Jerseyans make informed decisions and avoid the pitfalls,” said Commissioner Adelman.

NJPN will work with key partners to identify the needs of the target populations, and will reach out to youth leaders who are already engaged locally through schools and other youth serving organizations to encourage them to participate and provide their input and insight.

“We are excited that young people will be involved in the planning and design of this campaign. Including the perspective of the very people we’re trying to reach. We hope that this will help make the messaging that much more effective and impactful,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health Services Lisa Asare.

            “The majority of adults who meet the criteria for having a substance use disorder started using substances during their teenage and young adult years. Educating young people early about the health risks involved can deter them from high-risk substance use,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who directs the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

NJPN will develop, share and distribute marketing materials targeting general and high-risk populations for use in print, online, radio and social media promotion. Interested individuals and organizations will be able to access these materials directly via an online portal created by NJPN. NJPN will also identify paid placement of print and digital advertising, such as billboards and posters on mass transit.

The funding for this campaign is provided by the Federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant supplement and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).