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Drug Enforcement Administration

New Jersey

Susan A. Gibson, Special Agent in Charge

May 02, 2018

Contact: Timothy P. McMahon

Phone Number: (973) 776-1143

DEA Hosts Successful Youth And Family Drug Awareness Summit In Wildwood

WILDWOOD, N.J. -  The Drug Enforcement (DEA) in New Jersey hosted its first South Jersey Youth and Family Drug Awareness Summit at the Wildwoods Convention Center on Saturday, April 28.  The summit was part of the DEA’s 360 Strategy to combat opioid abuse.  The summit was attended by 200 elementary and middle school students, and their parents from across the region.

New Jersey, like much of the country, is in the midst of a heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemic.  In 2016, there were more than 64,000 accidental drug overdose deaths across the United States, about 63% of those directly related to either heroin/fentanyl or prescription opioids.  In New Jersey, that number was 2,221.  Unfortunately, New Jersey has the purest and some of the cheapest heroin in the country.  This is due in large part because New Jersey is a destination point for the heroin coming in from the source countries of Mexico and Colombia.

Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s New Jersey Division said, “We are relying on today’s youth to make the right decisions and stay away from drug and alcohol use.  They can have a great impact on this epidemic by being educated about the dangers of drug use.  We are counting on them.”

Holding the summit had two purposes: teaching students at a young age about the dangers of drug use and educating the parents.  It is vital to reach children at a young enough age for them to realize the dangers of drug abuse.  Just as vital is getting the message across to parents that drug abuse and addiction can happen to anyone.  Too many parents today hold the attitude of “not my child”, because of where they live or how much money they make.  It is all too clear that this epidemic does not discriminate and has no boundaries.

Aric Bostic, a motivational speaker, kicked off the summit by telling the children the importance of following their dreams and reinforcing his message to the students that “You are awesome!”  The students and parents then attended various workshops.  Some of the student workshops were taught by youth leaders from Buena Regional High School in Buena, N.J. and Williamstown High School in Monroe Township, N.J.  The students learned about leadership and how they can be a force in their community, the dangers of vaping and addiction, and the fundamentals of leadership for youth.  The parents were able to attend a Hidden in Plain Sight presentation to learn where teens may be hiding drugs in their rooms, social media hiding apps, and how to help their children make healthier choices. 

DEA will continue its outreach to students and parents across the state. 

DEA was joined at the summit by many of its partners: Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lions Club, Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Morey’s Piers and Waterparks, and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of (CADCA).

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