The Evesham Township Police Department in conjunction with Cherokee High School and the Lenape Regional High School District’s Defy the Issue Campaign are implementing a new interactive high school opiate awareness program entitled #NotEvenOnce. This program is in response to the growing opiate epidemic in New Jersey. In 2017 there were 144 documented fatal overdoses in Burlington County, 9 of which were in Evesham Township with our youngest fatality being only 15 years of age. In 2018 Evesham Township alone has already had 56 reported overdoses 5 of which resulted in fatality. This program is instructed by police officers 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 work force. This program coincides with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for health classes and will be taught to students during their senior year of high school.
This program is unique in that it informs students of how this epidemic directly affects their own community. Students will be hearing from former Cherokee High School graduates who succumbed to opiate abuse and subsequent addiction who are presently in recovery and have a strong foundation to help deter others from following the same path. In addition to hearing from past graduates students will hear from a Marlton family, Stephen and Debra Huffnagle, who lost their son to opiate addiction in 2015. Maxwell “Max” Huffnagle was a 2010 graduate of Cherokee High School.
The Evesham Township Police Department and Cherokee High School have a vision for this #NotEvenOnce Program. Our hope is that we can educate and inform our seniors of the dangers of opiate substance abuse. With this training we hope to decrease the statistics within our community.