NEW JERSEY (FOX5NJ) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday announced support to begin anti-drug education as early as kindergarten. Christie spoke to a classroom of sixth graders as part of a L.E.A.D. program.
"If we're going to solve this problem, you're the ones that are going to solve it because you're smart, you're going to make good decisions," Christie told the children.
L.E.A.D stands for Law Enforcement Against Drugs. The governor also awarded a $375,000 grant to lead to expand the program into nine counties with the highest incidents of drug abuse.
Last year, approximately 1,600 people died from a heroin overdose in New Jersey. That is two and a half times the national average.
Dr. Harris Stratyner, an addiction specialist, says while he applauds the governor's effort to stem the state's heroin epidemic he believes the program needs to be tailored specifically to children.
"Maybe someone could argue that it's never too soon to start teaching," Dr. Stratyner says. "Addiction is a disease. It's primary, it's progressive and it's chronic. And if it's not treated it's fatal."