Atlantic County Students Exposed to Dangers of Drug Use

Last Edited:

On Tuesday, April 11th, Stockton University officials welcomed more than 200 students from eight Atlantic County high schools who were exposed to the dangers of substance abuse in more ways than one.

They attended a day full of educational events geared towards living above the influence.

“It’s a good way for the students to learn stuff and for them to take back and understand that addiction is a disease and there’s a lot of stuff going on, especially with the opioid epidemic," said Laurie Smith, the community initiative coordinator for Atlantic Prevention Resources. "And it’s a way they can learn and get more information about the programs.”

I just want to make people aware of resources and signs so no one ends up dying or being severely in trouble.

Representatives with Join Together Atlantic County, Atlantic Prevention Resources, and Stockton University’s Wellness Center filled the day with hands-on activities, some of which had the students trying on fatal vision goggles as they tried to complete everyday activities such as walking and driving.

“It was kind of hard to walk; the line was pretty curved and you couldn’t really walk straight,” said Riley Getter, a sophomore at Absegami High School.

“You couldn’t really see at all," said Ryan Hillman, a senior at Absegami High School. "Everything was ... blurry so you couldn’t really walk straight.”

Related: Scary Situation in Goshen Ends Safely

“You couldn’t really see anything. You thought the line was in front of you, but it was all the way to left," said Samantha Rando, a sophomore at Absegami High School. "It was just weird to look at.” 

“It was blurry," said Amanda Dearborn, a senior at Mainland High School. "Everything kind of ... moved all over the place, so when I hit a cone it didn’t look like I hit a cone." 

Some of the stations are run by college students working at Stockton University’s Wellness Center.

“I just want to make people aware of resources and signs so no one ends up dying or being severely in trouble,” said Brian Biernbaum, a sophomore at Stockton University, who is also an alcohol and drug peer educator at the Wellness Center.

One school counselor in attendance is hoping the workshops help his students make the right choices.

“I think it’s really tough to be a teenager right now. There are a lot of negative influences and a lot of desensitization of all the bad stuff out there," said Joseph Monteleone, a school counselor at Absegami High School. "So, I’m hoping they are going to make good choices and get away from the negativity of substance use.” 

Organizers hope the staff and students attending the summit take what they learned and share it with the rest of the students at their high schools in hopes of spreading awareness of the serious effects of substance use.

Related: 6 People OD, 2 Die as Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Hits the Streets of Camden

SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.

Do you have community news or events? Email, text SNJNews to 313131, or call 856.825.NEWS (6397).