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Ocean County wants more help for heroin overdose victims

Narcan has been instrumental in reversing more than 70 heroin overdoses in Ocean County since law enforcement started administering the life-saving nasal spray in April.  However, with repeat saves now occurring, its limitations in the war on drugs is becoming apparent.

Heroin
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

To fight back, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato is currently developing a program that will work hand-in-hand with Narcan.

Currently, there’s no way to track the progress of overdose victims who are sent to a hospital, then released. Under Coronato’s pilot program, immediate follow up would be administered at hospitals when an overdose victim is brought in.

“I want a physical person – one-on-one – somebody who’s skilled, somebody who has went through this to talk to that individual to say –  ‘You almost stepped into the light,;” Coronato said.

The prosecutor is currently working with state, county and local officials to obtain funding to implement the pilot program. “I consider if we don’t follow up, a lost opportunity,” he said.

He’s hoping to roll out a pilot program within the next two months and said it could be implemented statewide if it shows success in Ocean County.

Coronato believes the immediate intervention is the only way to break the circle of heroin addicts needing repeat saves. “We need to capture that person, not to put that person in jail, but to be able to get that person the help that it needs to break the circle, to break this addiction. That is not easily done,” he said.

Addressing a number of issues the right way, including health insurance coverage for drug addiction, education and legislation, are all tools that can help law enforcement get a better handle on controlling the drug problem, according to Coronato.

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