Western New Jersey

Students get first-hand accounts of the horrors of heroin

"It's a real life, right-in-their-face experience"

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. - At Warren Hills High School, the Health and Physical Education Department is taking an unfamiliar approach to an all too familiar problem.

"I'm in recovery, almost four years," says Amanda Bridge to a classroom full of seniors.

Students are learning first-hand about the dangers of addiction.

"They're usually kind of shocked, especially when I pull out the mug shot," said Bridge.

Bridge shared her story of addiction to prescription pain pills and heroin on Friday, part of the school's new program #NotEvenOnce.

"It's a real life, right in their face, kind of experience," said Elise Tooker, Health and P.E. teacher at Warren Hills.

The program is a partnership between the school district and the Washington Township Police Department.

It's broken up into three sessions where officers talk to students about the growing opioid crisis facing the nation and their community.

"It's one last little push there before they do graduate," said Sgt. Christopher Jones with the Washington Township Police Department.

In addition to the hands-on lessons with the police officers, students hear from guest speakers like Bridge and Helen Carey, a mother who lost her Warren Hills High School son to a heroin overdose four years ago.

"The ambulance started to back out and then all of a sudden it stopped and I started beating on the dash board, “please don't take my son, please don't take my son, take me, take me I've had a full life but please don't take my son," said Carey.

It's a lesson straight from the source, with the goal of getting to students' minds and hearts before it’s too late.

"With heroin and opioids, the “one time” can change your life, the “one time” can cost you your life," said Carey.

Police and school staff members say the goal is to eventually implement the program into the younger grade levels.

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