Heroin Wasteland (Part 5 of 5): In the final installment in our exclusive series on New Jersey’s drug abuse epidemic, we learn efforts are being made across the board to promote better understanding about the dangers of heroin, and get effective help for those who become ensnared by the drug.

Photo credit Ocean County Prosecutor's Office

Is there anything that can be done to slow down and eventually stop New Jersey's heroin epidemic?

To have the greatest effect possible on children, Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato, who pioneered New Jersey's Narcan pilot program and is now working on a new initiative to improve after-Narcan care and follow-up, is convinced drug education must begin when kids are in Middle School.

"You need to go into the schools, you need to be embedded, you need to weave yourself into the school system, weave yourself into the community to say this is a road you don't go down," Coronato said.

The prosecutor is also producing videos about the dangers of heroin and presenting informational forums all over the county.

Experts agree another component that's needed to slow down and stop the heroin epidemic is making sure detox and rehab facilities offer a specialized course of action that focuses on the individual and after-care is comprehensive and complete.

Carrier Clinic CEO Don Parker is convinced the right kind of support is also vital.

"It requires families and friends and neighbors to join in to help you get through a very difficult time in your life," he said. "We're going to be dependent on aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and neighbors to help you continue your sobriety."

Parker said recovering addicts and their families can participate in several programs at Carrier, including a weekend co-dependency program, and a Bright Futures for Kids education support program.

"We need to remember drug addiction is a disease and people need help to overcome it," he said.

Parker added another important component in this hope.

"Families that are successful in helping other members always have hope, always believe that it can happen, and never give up," he said. "Every addict that I've ever encountered who's been successful on a long term basis will go back and say somebody had faith in me, somebody stayed with me."

Click below to view the first story in the “Heroin Wasteland" series:

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