May 14 – May 20 has been dubbed National Prevention Week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In an effort to promote awareness against substance abuse and its dangers to the community, a new group out of Crown Heights called Operation Survival has partnered with a number of stores in their area to encourage parents and educators to “Teach Kids to Refuse to Use.”

The campaign hopes to empower children with the confidence and skills to turn away from people and situations that promote the use of alcohol or other drugs.

“There is research that demonstrates that over 80 percent of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink” said Rabbi Yaacov Behman, program director of Operation Survival.

According to the NYC Department of Health’s provisional mortality data,In 2016, more than 1,300 people in New York City died from a drug overdose, the highest year on record; 80 percent of these deaths involved an opioid, including prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine) and heroin.

Overdose deaths in New York City have gone up for six consecutive years, mainly driven by an increase in fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can be mixed with heroin, cocaine, and illicit opioid painkillers without the knowledge of the person using the drug.

Brooklyn had 277 overdose deaths in 2016, the second highest number of all boroughs, following the Bronx at 279 overdose deaths. Coney Island-Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst-Bay Ridge, the neighborhoods with the highest rates of opioid painkiller overdose deaths in Brooklyn.

Over the past 10 months, Operation Survival has distributed free naloxone kits and trained more than 100 Crown Heights residents in opioid overdose prevention and deaths.

“Working together as a community we can strengthen our children so that they grow up safe and healthy. Many thanks to the businesses who understood the importance of this message enough to trade in their usual shopping bags for the ones with this timely message.”

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