- Opioids: Nutley athletes raise awareness



Nutley High School student-athletes sought Friday to help educate those at high risk for opioid abuse, including themselves.

The Senate and General Assembly designated Oct. 6 as New Jersey’s annual Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day. The chief purpose is to educate doctors who prescribe pain medications, as well as raise awareness of the abuse and how to prevent it for all citizens and their communities.

Nutley marked the occasion with six walks in one day.

It started with 160 NHS student-athletes, who gathered in the school's cafeteria to form teams, coordinated by Public Safety and Police Department personnel.

The athletes, representing all fall sports teams, collected and distributed three types of door knob hangers to businesses and residences.


One placard was geared toward senior citizens and other adults, who may be prescribed painkillers for chronic illnesses. Another targeted medical professionals, noting 61 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds are prescribed opioids after tooth extraction.

The other one hit home for the players, stating male youth athletes are twice as likely to be prescribed opioids and four times more likely to abuse them.

The messages refer recipients to On the website, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey provides signs and symptoms of opioid abuse as well as resources for help.

‘Starts with education’

“This is being sponsored by the Nutley Municipal Alliance. It is a statewide organization that filters down to the county and individual municipalities,” Sandra Carella, administrative assistant to Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, told


“Nutley has a very active Municipal Alliance, and this is one of the many efforts that we do to provide education and resources for our community, in regards to drug and alcohol issues and problems,” she added.

Other local event sponsors included Helping Our Parents Endure of Nutley, Law Enforcement Against Drugs, Nutley Board of Education, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Nutley Education Foundation and Nutley Public Library.

“What’s going to make our walk special is that not anyone, that I’m aware of, has such a huge contribution from the student body, which is actually organizing its own walk,” Det. Michael Padilla, who coordinates the Nutley Police Department’s LEAD, said before the NHS kickoff.

He noted the huge outpouring from the Athletic Department, under the direction of Joe Piro.

“If this isn’t fixed now, then as a generation, you will inherit it,” Padilla told the high school students before they fanned out through town. “The more we can do to fix this now and get it on the right course, the better off we are.” 

“It all starts with education and then help,” he said.

Following the 12:30 to 2 p.m. NHS walk, community leaders and walkers gathered at Nutley’s five elementary schools, to distribute hangers in their neighborhoods.