New Jersey heroin epidemic continues to spiral out of control. Last year there were 781 heroin-related deaths in the Garden State, and the scourge shows no sign of letting up.
Once considered a lower class issue far removed from the nicer suburban streets, heroin addiction has very quickly become the number-one health care crisis confronting the state, according to a 2014 report released by the Task Force on Heroin and Other Opiate Use by New Jersey’s Youth and Young Adults. It affects countless young people once thought to be at low risk of addiction. Moreover, the vast majority of addicts came to their dependency through prescription pain pills.These are sometimes legitimately acquired but also easily obtained on the black market.
With very cheap and potent heroin, South Jersey has been hit very hard. Around 263 heroin-related overdoses have been logged in Camden City so far this year, including 22 fatalities. The death rate could have been far higher. Recently 25 people have revived with the use of Naloxane, an antidote that can reverse an opiate overdose commonly used by many public safety and medical professions.The heroin antidote drug Narcan has made a substantial difference since its use was expanded in New Jersey in April of last year, but it’s not going to solve the problem. The drug works by blocking the opiate receptors and reversing the effects of the heroin.
The vast majority of the users are not city residents but suburbanites, mostly commuting from nearby communities to buy heroin. This is a problem that exists in every neighborhood, and everyone needs to be aware of it. 80 to 90 percent of drug arrests in Camden City involve suburban users.
Beyond the horrific toll of young lives taken, heroin’s grip has led to an increase in crime throughout the region. Not only are the manufacturing, possession and selling of drugs a crime, but addiction also causes users to engage in risky and illegal behavior. In order to pay for their habit, heroin users often resort to theft, including break-ins in their own neighborhoods, the selling of family heirlooms and prostitution.