FLORHAM PARK, N.J.- The total number of Americans who died from drug overdoses in 2016 exceeded the estimated 58,000 individuals killed during the Vietnam War. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 64,000 Americans died from all drug overdoses last year.

More than 20,000 fatal overdoses were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Morris County is hardly immune from the growing epidemic; 65 individuals have died from heroin and opioid overdoses through the first eight months of this year, a rate that exceeds the number of overdose deaths in 2016 during the same period. More than 1,900 New Jerseyans perished last year according to N.J. Advance Media reports. 

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp is determined to raise public awareness of the opioid and heroin epidemic and how to combat it by participating in and sponsoring ongoing public programs.

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Two programs will be presented by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office next week along with municipal partners.
One is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11, at 7 p.m. in the Randolph High School auditorium in Randolph Township. Co-sponsors include the Randolph Municipal Alliance Committee, the Randolph Police Department, Morris County Prevention is Key and Morris County CARES.

The other program is set for Thursday, October 12, at 7 p.m. at Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park. Co-sponsors include the Florham Park Police Department and the Florham Park Board of Education.

“By raising public consciousness of this heroin-opioid epidemic, it is our hope to stem the tide of addiction and related deaths,” Prosecutor Knapp said. “Through traditional drug interdiction, treatment for addiction and educational programs we hope to end this senseless slaughter.”

Held in conjunction with municipal police departments and local anti-drug groups, the symposiums are designed to highlight the devastating impact heroin and prescription opioids can have on families and communities. All are welcome to attend these events.

The programs are presented by Knapp and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Bradford Seabury, head of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Operations Division. Seabury details the latest national and local statistics and delves into how illicit drugs are distributed and sold in the United States. He also describes how the cycle of addiction can start and avoidance measures that can be taken.

“Informing our community about heroin, prescription opiates and treatment options for the disease of addiction is an important component to the strategy of combating this deadly epidemic,” Seabury said.

The numbers are sobering. The United States has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but consumes approximately 80 percent of the world’s opioids. The presentations are valuable for both students and their parents.In addition to a presentation by Seabury, the programs will feature a question and answer session with law enforcement and anti-drug group officials.