Drug prevention comes to the big screen in NJ
As the New Jersey heroin epidemic continues to spread, especially among people in their teens and 20s, a new effort is taking place in Central Jersey to try and stem the tide.
The Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has announced that, starting in the next few days, five movie theaters in the New Brunswick Area around Rutgers University will begin airing a short video during previews that focuses on New Jersey's recently enacted Good Samaritan law. The law grants immunity to anyone contacting authorities if they're with someone who's overdosing on heroin.
"It's intended to stem this epidemic that we're experiencing here in Middlesex County and throughout the state obviously," said Ezra Helfand, the NCADD of Middlesex County Executive Director.
He said heroin overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2011, and while the epidemic has been slowed by the use of Narcan - the anti-heroin antidote drug - the underlying problem has not gone away.
"Through increased awareness and attention the idea is to basically stem this incredible loss of especially our youth, as a result of overdoses of heroin, you've got a mini city essentially of 40,000-plus students who attend school at Rutgers, so we felt marketing inside of movie theaters would be an easy way to reach these people," Helfand said. "We're targeting 5 complexes of movie theaters."
According to Helfand, the message of the video is "with one call you can save one life, and basically dial 911, don't be afraid to do that because you think you'll be prosecuted, do it to save a friend's life."
Helfand said another aspect of the campaign is to spread the word about the Good Samaritan 911 law on billboards.
"Generating awareness and recognition among a wide audience by using the highways and byways that bisect Middlesex County, but our message isn't just localized to Middlesex County," Helfand said. "It's something that should resonate to everyone throughout the state."
Click below to see a video of our recent NJ 101.5 Town Hall special on New Jersey's heroin epidemic.