The dangers of prescription drug abuse will be at the forefront at Fort Lee High School this morning where an assembly will be held for freshmen.

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The event will kick off "National Consumer Protection Week" and will launch a new Consumer Affairs public awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug diversion and abuse. The campaign is part of a multi-tiered strategy by State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to combat the rapidly growing epidemic.

"This is an expansion of what we've been doing over the past couple of years and we're taking it directly to the people who are potentially most affected by this issue and most at-risk of falling into prescription drug abuse," said Eric Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "What people don't realize is that many of these drugs are the same as heroin at their core, but in a different form. The message I like to bring to high school students is this, if you would never consider picking up a needle and injecting yourself with heroin, you should never consider taking a pill no matter what anyone tells you."

"We're at the point now where more people die from prescription drug overdoses or abuse than die from heroin and cocaine abuse combined, so it's an epidemic at this point. Two out of every five high school students in this country believe that prescription drugs are safer than the traditional narcotics," said Kanefsky. "We're just trying to make it very clear that that is not the case."

The assembly will be held from 8:55 am to 10:00 am at Fort Lee High School. Speakers will include representatives from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Middlesex County, the Foundation for a Drug-Free World and the New Jersey Association of School Resource Officers.

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