Report: Heroin deaths on the rise in Bergen County

            Much of the narrative surrounding New Jersey’s growing heroin problem has centered on Ocean County. And understandably so. With 112 overdose deaths directly related to opioid abuse, the county saw an over 100% increase from its 2012 numbers. However the story isn’t all about Ocean County. As I’ve stated before, 2013 saw the death of two people everyday from opioid related overdoses in New Jersey. While the state focuses on Ocean County, we can’t forget about the rest of the state, as is evidenced by this troubling report out of Bergen County yesterday.

            Bergen County has experienced 13 overdose deaths in 2014. At a pace of one lost family member every week, Bergen County has a chance to blow away the 2013 total of 27. We are seeing more and more how the opioid epidemic crosses over demographic and economic boundaries. As this story in The Bergen Record indicates, they are football players, mothers, friends, sisters, brothers, and most importantly they are our neighbors.

            With Governor Christie giving over 28,000 New Jersey EMTs the ability to administer life-saving drugs to help prevent heroin overdoses, we can certainly hope to see the number of overdose deaths in 2014 dramatically decrease. But this doesn’t diminish the problem as a whole.  In fact according to the CDC, for every overdose death, there are 10 people in treatment, 32 emergency department visits for opioid abuse, 130 people who dependent on opioids, and 825 nonmedical users. The deaths that are reported in the news are merely the tip of the iceberg.

            We call upon parents to heed these warnings and look for signs of substance abuse among your children and their friends. Sergeant David Borzotta of the Bergan County Prosecutor’s Office narcotics task force said: “It starts at a party with a painkiller and ends alone at night in your bedroom.”

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