Last year was devastating...this year could be worse.

We talked a lot last year about the amount of overdose deaths in Ocean County (112 in 2013). As a result, a massive spotlight has been shown on the issue, revealing heroin as a drug that no longer just exists in inner cities. It has reached suburban and rural neighborhoods, wreaking havoc wherever it goes. Unfortunately, we here in New Jersey are at the epicenter of this epidemic, home to some of the purest heroin in the country.

Yet despite all this exposure and the measures being taken by Ocean County law enforcement, people are still dying. In fact, according to this report released by the Manasquan Patch, Ocean County has already seen 13 overdose deaths this calendar year. If 112 deaths seemed like a lot, then its truly scary to think about what could happen this year.

                               

                               Image credit: static.guim.co.uk

As we discussed in my post about Philip Seymour Hoffman, addiction is never something that truly goes away. In the case of these Ocean County overdoses, and in overdose cases across the state, many of the victims were trying to fight off their demons but succumbed to the powerful allure that heroin provides.

While these families will never be the same again, it’s important to remember the sheer breadth of the problem. Those who are overdosing are merely the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds more who are fighting the same battle. The CDC released an excellent visual representation, documenting how many people are affected by addiction. We hope they are able to overcome it, but we believe that prevention is still the best means of fighting substance abuse.

Parents: the time to have conversations about heroin and other kinds of substance abuse is now. The problem is no longer miles away, but right here in your backyards. These are the issues our children are dealing with on a daily basis and an active parental role model in their lives can mean the difference between a drug-free, healthy lifestyle and the battle of addiction.

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