Drug-related overdoses in New Jersey up 22 percent
New Jersey's fatal overdose epidemic continues. In some parts of the state, it is getting much worse.
The state attorney general's office reports drug-related deaths increased 22 percent in 2015. In Ocean County, second in New Jersey in ODs in 2015, Prosecutor Joseph Coronato expects this year to be even worse because of the "new kid in town."
"A year or a year and a half ago, we were just dealing with heroin. Now we are dealing with heroin and fentanyl," a much more powerful synthetic opioid, Coronao said.
According to prosecutor Coronato, cocktails of fentanyl and heroin are showing up everywhere.
"It is constantly changing. It is a fluid situation," he said.
Addiction experts, such as Angelo Valente of The Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, say to stem this overdose tide, everyone must pitch in.
"We need to have parents actively involved. We need to have the medical community involved," he said.
Valente said the drug stats are truly a wakeup call — that all New Jersey families must understand our state and nation remain in the grips of this epidemic.
He said we must curb prescription opioid abuse. Valente said many individuals who have become addicted to heroin did so as a result either of being prescribed or of experimenting with prescription drugs over the last decade.
For one thing, Valente said, we have to stop prescribing opiates when they are not necessary, "and then when they are necessary, we have to make sure that we follow the most recent guidelines, which is a three- to five-day supply at most."
He added: "I think that we really need to look at this, downstream, and look at it from where it is beginning, and that is through the first exposure of opiates."
According to the State Attorney General's Office, the counties with the most drug-related deaths in 2015 were:
1) Camden County, 191
2) Ocean County, 157
3) Essex County, 146
4) Monmouth County, 122
5) Hudson County, 107
6) Middlesex County, 106
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.
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