The city responsible rumored to be responsible for drinking, reality television, and Spring Break might now have another epidemic to add to the list. The heroin epidemic pulsing throughout the country has now taken multiple victims in the greater New Jersey suburban area. So high is the count that already in 2014 three people in Ocean County, N. J. have already overdosed on heroin. The drug problems are moving out of the inner city, where most people thought the problems were prevalent, and now hitting the outskirts and higher-up neighborhoods.
The Jersey Shore is a boardwalk string of beach towns in Ocean County. Though the county has less than 7 percent of the state’s population, it led the state in emergency room visits and admissions, most of them being the result of a heroin overdose. In 2013, 53 people were reported to have died because of a heroin or prescription drug overdose in Ocean County alone. The overdose numbers from heroin account for nearly half of the 112 that were reported in the county, which is just about ten percent of a state total of 1188 overdoses. The issue has become so bad that police have issued warnings for a toxic brand of heroin being sold in the county as “Bud Light”.
Experts believe that the overdose problem is a result of a purer form of heroin, but studies have shown that there is no consistency with how the drug is “cut”. Every time a person receives heroin from a dealer, they are gambling with their lives. The drugs can be so diluted as to contain no heroin at all, or be the purest cut to date – there is no telling. Often times, this is how people overdose; their bodies become used to a less pure form of the drug and when they receive a purer cut their bodies react. The drugs are less expensive than the prescriptions for opioids and more available on the streets. Some even say that prescription drugs are a gateway to heroin. To battle this, Ocean County officials have issued warnings to funeral homes for people who have deceased relatives that took opioids as a prescription explaining the importance of disposal. There are even designated drop-off points for prescription drug collection.
How Prescription Drugs and Heroin are Related
Though heroin is a well-known illicit drug, the problem might be fed through other means. Prescription drugs have become a huge epidemic over the last decade, with more and more prescriptions being written every day. Drugs are prescribed for a number of problems nowadays, from reversing a diagnoses to kicking a preexisting drug habit. Suboxone, for instance, is prescribed to get a person off of heroin, but its purpose might be feeding back into the problem. When drugs are taken, they cause a certain reaction in the body. Whether that reaction is a euphoria, excitement, or relaxation, the drugs cause a chemical reaction – which is what they are created to do. However, the body has a way of adapting to a reaction and becoming accustomed to it, causing the user to have to take more of the drug to achieve its desired effect. This happens when all substances foreign to the body are introduced, therefore, prescribing a medication to kick a drug habit does the opposite. The patient is trading one addiction for another, and though one drug may be less harmful, the problem still persists.
There are many opioids that are prescribed as painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycodone. Heroin is also an opiate and reacts similarly in the body. Experts that believe prescription drugs are a gateway to heroin understand the similarity. People prescribed painkillers soon become addicted, and when their prescriptions rise in price they seek out a substitute. For painkiller patients, heroin is that substitute (and it was cheaper). In this way, prescription drugs have contributed to the major problem of abuse.
NBC News Investigations – http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/13/22292970-heroin-deaths-surge-at-the-jersey-shore