PISCATAWAY, NJ - Now that President Donald Trump has declared the opiate crisis a national public health emergency, the Piscataway Police Department announced on Monday they are starting a new program for freshmen students at Piscataway High School this school year.

Titled ‘#NotEvenOnce’, the interactive opiate awareness course is designed to educate students about opiate abuse and give them tools to help with making better decisions, said officials.

“This country has never seen a health epidemic as severe as this,” said Piscataway Police Chief, Scott Cartmell.

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“In 2016 over 64,000 people in the United States died as a result of opiate overdose, equating to 175 people per day,” he said. “This crisis affects people from all walks of life and all socio-economic backgrounds.”

The four-week course will begin in January and will be taught by Detectives Daniel Higgins and Raymond Rose. Students will meet with them twice a week during their health classes.

“It is our duty as a police department to explore every avenue and to use any tools at our disposal to help reduce the number of deaths due to opiate overdoses,” explained Chief Cartmell. “We are going to use this program to attempt to reach out to the young people of our community to give them the knowledge of the risks of opiate use and the skills and abilities that will hopefully assist them with avoiding becoming a statistic in this crisis.”

The opiate awareness course was developed by the Manchester Township Police Department and is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and educators with the goal of informing students about the dangers of opiates before they leave for college or enter the workforce, said officials.

It meets all of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for health classes.

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