TIME: Heroin related deaths in America QUADRUPLED Since 2000

We have talked many times on this blog about the prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic that has gripped our state. We know that there are thousands people affected by this issue and we know that on average, we lose two New Jersey residents a day to an opiate overdose. But a recent report from TIME.com puts this trend in a stark and frightening national perspective.

According to TIME, heroin related deaths have more than quadrupled in America in the last 15 years, across all demographics. The study cites a source we know all too much about in New Jersey: prescription painkillers. More adults in their 20s are on opioid based painkillers than ever before. These painkillers carry with them the risk of developing an addiction, which we know can lead to heroin abuse.

New Jersey is quickly becoming a national trendsetter in battling this epidemic on a variety of fronts. PDFNJ’s Do No Harm symposiums are educating doctors across the state about this dangerous trend and helping them find alternative prescribing methods or better educating themselves on how to prevent it in their patients. In fact, this week, PDFNJ and the DEA - New Jersey Division are down in Atlanta for the annual Rx Summit, presenting on the effectiveness of these symposiums.

We are also seeing New Jersey’s Narcan program saving hundreds of lives in the last year alone and continues to evolve as we seek to get help to those who are affected. We are seeing two major bills pass through our legislature that would make it mandatory for doctors to utilize New Jersey’s prescription drug monitoring program and to have conversations with their patients about the addictive nature of these drugs.

We are certainly proud of these accomplishments, but with studies like these, indicating that 37% of people are using painkillers stronger than morphine, up from 17% in the early 2000s, we see that there are still risks out there and work to be done.

The best we can do is continue to educate the public about these risks. We are seeing far too many New Jersey residents and people across the country succumbing to this deadly disease. The issue is complicated and the numbers are staggering, but with education, prevention, and collaboration from all facets of the issue, we WILL begin to see these alarming trends start to turn more in our favor.

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