Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearing It from Those Who Know

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearing It from Those Who Know

Article excerpt

OLD TAPPAN -- Kevin walked up and down the aisles of Northern Valley Regional High School's auditorium on Friday afternoon, showing freshmen his forearms, which are riddled with scars from a decadelong heroin habit.

"I was sitting in those seats, like, 15 years ago," he said. "I thought it never ever would be me."

Kevin, a 27-year-old Bergen County resident and a recovering addict who declined to give his last name or hometown, urged the students to get help for themselves or others with addiction problems. He spoke Friday during a presentation, sponsored by the Bergen County prosecutor's narcotics task force, in which authorities warned students about the dangers of heroin and prescription drugs.

Gurbir S. Grewal, the acting Bergen County prosecutor, said heroin is "the No. 1 issue by far" that his office faces. "It is an issue that affects every corner of this county," he said.

In 2015, there were 288 overdoses in Bergen County, 231 of which were heroin- and opiate-related, Grewal said. Eighty-seven people died from overdoses in the county last year, nearly twice as many as in 2014.

"We are going to have even more deaths this year," Grewal said.

To try to prevent students from using opiates, narcotics detectives from the Prosecutor's Office travel around the county and speak to children with the goal of stopping an addiction before it starts. On Friday, they spoke to students at both Northern Valley Regional High Schools -- in Demarest in the morning and in Old Tappan in the afternoon.

"Every day, we see people's lives ruined by these drugs," Detective Chris Lewicki said.

Lewicki and Detective Capt. David Borzotta asked the students if any had been injured while playing sports. The painkillers doctors prescribe are opioids, which the detectives described as heroin's "pretty cousin."

"Just because he gave you 30 [pills] doesn't mean you have to take all 30," Borzotta said, suggesting Tylenol instead.

The detectives also said that addictions can start with alcohol and marijuana. …

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