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The Brooklyn-based Operation Survival project has launched an awareness campaign to increase knowledge among residents in the integrated neighborhood of Crown Heights about the risks and dangers of prescription opioids and drug abuse.

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“The above short video was produced as a call to action for people to openly discuss the dangers of opioids, keep their prescription drugs in a locked cabinet, and safely dispose of any unused prescriptions,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the board of directors of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE). “The video demonstrates just how easy it is to overdose.” NCFJE is the umbrella organization incorporating Operation Survival.

“Thousands of informational brochures are being distributed in Crown Heights,” said Rabbi Ya’acov Behrman, Operation Survival project director. “These brochures are designed to educate parents on some of the reasons why teens turn to drug abuse and the possible signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect your child is using drugs.”

Operation Survival is also offering free naloxone trainings in the community. Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid overdose, Behrman added.

“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50. In recent years, drug overdoses killed more people than gun violence or car crashes. We need to do more to stop this epidemic,” Hecht noted.

“Some people still tend to think of drug use as an ‘outside problem’, but the reality is that addiction doesn’t discriminate,” Behrman pointed out. “It occurs in every community, and we can’t afford to ignore the problem.”

The awareness campaign was launched in partnership with New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton. “Knowledge is power,” the Senator said. “In the face of the exponential growth of opioid abuse, it is critical that everyone gets to learn about the best defenses. Waiting for more people to die is not an option. If not now, when?”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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