Months after it was first announced, police departments throughout Monmouth County are beginning to supply officers with the heroin overdose antidote drug nalaxone, also known as Narcan

(Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)
(Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

On Thursday, the Monmouth County Prosecutors Officer announced that 300 Narcan kits have been issued to police departments.

In April, Monmouth as well as Ocean County were chosen to be part of the Narcan pilot program by Gov. Chris Christie. Both were counties were in the midst of heroin epidemics, each seeing spikes in arrests and overdose deaths.

"In Monmouth County, between 2011 and 2013 the rate of people who have died from heroin and prescription opiate abuse is nearly triple the amount of homicides and highway fatalities combined," said Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc LeMieux.

Similar to the program in Ocean County, police and first responders will carry the Narcan in the form of a nasal spray which will be administered to unconscious individuals who appear to have overdosed.

"What it does is it restores a person's breathing, it is safe, it is effective, and has no potential for abuse. The way it will work is the responding officer will do an initial assessment before administering Narcan. If a person is conscious they will not administer Narcan, it is only administered when is someone is unconscious, has slow or no breathing, and in some cases has small pupils," LeMieux said.

In Ocean County, since the program was initiated earlier this year, Narcan has already led to the reversals of 49 overdoses. The Prosecutor's Office has been visiting communities throughout the county to warn parents of the danger of opiates.

LeMieux said parents in middle class and affluent communities like Howell, Middletown, Holmdel and Colts Neck need to realize the drug does not discriminate.

"It's not just in the Asbury Park's or certain areas. It's everywhere and we have to be concerned about it," LeMieux said

An additional 100 Narcan kits have already been ordered to supplement the 300 that have already been distributed. All of the kits are being paid for by forfeiture funds seized from illegal activity, such as dealing drugs.

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