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Fighting Heroin Addiction in Ocean County [AUDIO]

Ocean County is taking more steps to fight a heroin epidemic that’s partially to blame for 102 drug overdose deaths this year, nearly double the amount from 2012.

Flickr User dkalo

Al Della Fave, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said toxicology reports are still pending for two other cases.

“Maybe within the next week or two we’ll be at 104, and we’re thinking that the way the numbers are coming in, we’ll not only double it but be beyond it,” said Della Fave.

In addition to a wide-ranging education program aimed at children, police departments in all of the county’s 33 municipalities will start carrying the medication Narcan.

“Narcan is a nasal spray,” said Della Fave. “It’s an antidote which temporarily reverses the lethal effects of heroin.”

The medication is inexpensive and easy to administer, and Della Fave hopes it will prevent the death count from rising while simultaneously giving addicts a second chance.

“With this antidote, if they’re able to be brought back, that may be the difference to get them to turn things around and seek rehab,” Della Fave said.

Narcan will also be available to family members who have loved ones fighting opioid addition.

The prosecutor’s office is additionally pushing for changes in legislation to help more heroin dealers be prosecuted and jailed. Doses are small in weight, making trafficking difficult to prosecute under current law. And so the drug remains a cheap, addictive, and readily available menace.

“The law right now, the way it reads is you need a significant weight to have a presumption of jail,” said Della Fave. “If that can be changed to dosage, then we’ll have more leverage.”

With 2013 coming to an end, the prosecutor’s office hopes its initiatives will quell the drug’s impact. However, while prosecutors hope to see an immediate drop-off, ridding Ocean County of heroin addiction is not expected to be a quick process. Della Fave says it may take the county more than two years to evaluate whether the measures have taken hold for good.

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