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New Jersey Heroin Overdoses Triple the National Average

New Jersey Heroin Overdoses Triple the National Average

Author: Justin Mckibben

It consistently troubles me to have to write this, but ignoring it won’t make it go away. Heroin overdoses are thrashing the nation as a whole, with certain states taking a particular portion of the damage. I keep hoping the day will come where the headline can show some dramatic decrease in drug related deaths, or that a radical new treatment is taking the nation by storm and saving billions.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some success stories and prospects of revitalization, but so far the bad news seems to outnumber the good in a big way across the board.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that the rate of heroin overdose deaths since 2010 has continuously skyrocketed to devastating heights, and already some experts speculate we have not ever begun to see the darkest day.

Still, separate findings show that the status is even graver in the state of New Jersey.

New Numbers for New Jersey

Along with the statistics reported by the CDC there was another report released this week by NJ Advance Media which stands to claim the New Jersey’s heroin overdose rates are more than 3 times the already elevated rates reported by the CDC.

These disasters have now taken the front spot as the leading cause of death in the state, beating out:

The state Department of Health also determined more people died from heroin-related incidences in Camden and Atlantic counties than pneumonia and the flu… combined! This is a state with the highest population density in the U.S. with an average 1,030 people per square mile, 13 times the national average.

To put things a little bit in perspective, heroin-related deaths throughout New Jersey were:

  • 2013- 714 (8.3 per 100,000 people)
  • 2014- 781

When you compare those numbers to the national average of 2.6 per 100,000 people, it is terrifying reality. That means all over America the numbers are 2.6 per 100,000… while one state alone had triple the amount of death!

As sad as it is to sad, New Jersey is on the roll to record breaking numbers of deaths from heroin overdoses, and so far it has shown no signs of being relieved for a long term.

So why is New Jersey witnessing such a massive surge of overdose deaths?

The escalation of overdoses in New Jersey in part was due to the increased accessibility and affordability of heroin when compared to prescription drugs. Now-a-days an addict in the Garden State can cop a bag of heroin for only $4-6, while prescription drugs sold on the street are 6 times as much.

Since most addicts who abuse prescription opiates end of switching to heroin for higher potencies at lower prices, the heroin using population consistently grows, and so far it has proven to be detrimental to the overall effort to combat heroin addiction in the area.

State Response Time?

The truth is so far it doesn’t appear this dramatic body-count is for a lack of trying, as the state medical examiner has stated their data indicates drug and alcohol treatment practitioners have had their beds are almost constantly at full capacity.

One treatment center CEO apparently made a statement that up to 80% of his beds are filled with opiate addicts, with a vast number of the patients are under the age of 30 years old. Bob Baxter, former director of the needle exchange program in Newark had his two cents saying,

“We have a perfect storm of accessibility, affordability and acceptability. There’s still this reaction among families of ‘how could this happen?’ Heroin addicts are still viewed as these outliers in society. They’re not.”

The officials in the state of New Jersey have not sat idly by while this destruction has gone on, and more recently authorities have taken action to try and address the scourge of overdoses.

Democratic State Senator Joseph Vitale has put in a lot of paper work to get something done about this. So far he has introduced 21 bills to improve various aspects of addressing substance abuse, including:

Most of these bills have passed and the few have not, but they rest heavily on Governor Chris Christie’s desk just in case.

Governor Christie has also taken action on the issue and made it a priority of his administration, creating a state-by-state treatment hotline earlier this month and granting access to naloxone to law enforcement starting last year. Sparing no money Christie also dedicated millions of dollars for developing jail re-entry programs in 5 counties.

But how will this change the trend? Are these initiatives going to be enough to meeting the mounting death-toll at this rate, or is it still falling short considering the astronomical averages?

The point of this article is just to wake up the people who don’t see it for what it is, and to remind those who may be forgetting how bad it is out there. Death is a harsh reality for addicts everywhere, and in some places cemeteries are filling up fast than colleges and careers. We need to take a stand, and New Jersey could use some support.

Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. Our fathers, sons, mothers and daughters are losing their lives to the fight against addiction, and there is help out there for those who are willing to take action.

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