Professional BMX rider Tony Hoffman will be the keynote speaker at the Camden County Community Summit that tackles the current heroin problem in the area.
“Heroin, Pills. It All Kills,” takes place at the Collingswood Grand Ballroom on the White Horse Pike and Harrison Avenue in Collingswood on Monday, May 19, 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Additionally, the county will be posting the images attached to this post on billboards as a public safety campaign on the dangers of heroin and opiates, the county announced on Friday.
Clear Channel will provide the county with up to two dozen locations throughout the county.
“The scourge of heroin is ripping apart our families and killing our residents,” Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli said. “It is imperative for us to act on this crisis and bring the community together to address it. That starts with this summit, which will create partnerships to impact change in our county.”
In mid-march, the county reported 15 overdoses over the course of two days in Camden, Berlin, Stratford and Gloucester City.
Another 20 overdoses were reported throughout the county two weeks later.
The Philadelphia region has been identified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a main hub for heroin distribution in the Mid-Atlantic States, Capelli added.
The summit will focus on on prevention and treatment as two main themes.
New Jersey data shows a steady rise in prescription drug abuse in recent years. There were 8,300 admissions to state-certified substance-abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse in 2012, a 200 percent increase over the previous five years, according to the task force report.
“As an elected official opiate addiction is one of my biggest concerns,” Cappelli said. “Together, from parents to clergy, and every stakeholder in the county, we must unite to educate and treat this life threatening epidemic.”
The keynote speaker, Hoffman, was a top-ranked BMX rider before he became addicted to OxyContin and Heroin. He ultimately ended up in prison, but has been in recovery since 2007 and has returned to competition.
He founded the nonprofit Freewheel Project. He speaks to children and steers them away from drugs.
He will speak at the summit at 7:30 p.m. after a panel of experts engages in a question and answer session with parents.