HUNTERDON COUNTY, N.J. – New statistics showing that the heroin epidemic in Hunterdon County is getting worse.
According to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III, between July 27th and August 3rd, a 26 year old woman, a 42 year old man, and a 49 year old man died of apparent heroin overdoses in Hunterdon County. The deaths occurred in Pittstown, High Bridge, and Clinton Township.
In Hunterdon County, 28 overdoses have been report to police to date this year compared to 40 for all of 2015. So far in 2016, 9 of the overdoses were fatal compared to 12 overdose fatalities in all of 2015 and 8 in 2014.
of the 28 total overdoses this year, 23 were caused by heroin; 23 were male, and 5 were female. Of the nine fatal overdoses this year, six were caused by heroin. Six overdose deaths were male and three were female. The average age of the involved person is 39. The oldest was 58 and the youngest was 21, Kearns said.
“So far this year, police deployed Narcan and saved 18 people, compared to 16 saves in all of 2015. Without police administering Narcan, that could have been 18 more deaths this year,” Kearns said.
Narcan, also know as Naloxone, is an aerosol that is administered just like a nasal spray. It blocks the effects of an opioid for a period of time and permits emergency responders to get the victim to the hospital for treatment. The effects of an opiate can last up to four hours so overdose victims who are administered Narcan will still require medical attention. Hunterdon County Police Officers were trained and issued Narcan kits in 2014. Hunterdon Medical Center has consistently provided funding for Police Officers to carry Narcan in the county since the program started.
“The impact of the heroin epidemic is not only tragic to families, but also causes a strain on healthcare and government services. The overall impact on a community is affected as addicts often resort to crime to feed their addictions. The sickness of addiction is everyone’s problem and it can no longer be ignored here in Hunterdon or elsewhere. It’s happening here. Our efforts include enforcing the law, preventing addiction, preventing death, and preserving the quality of life for all families, regardless of their struggles,” Kearns said.
“It is obvious that the recent statistics are showing that this epidemic is getting worse. Parents, family, friends, law enforcement, faith based communities, and medical personnel are all part of the solution when someone is ensnared in the grips of an addiction. Recognition, treatment, and support from family and friends can help save a life. Preventing an overdose is just as important as responding to and treating one. It’s not just a law enforcement or health care issue. It’s a family issue.Education and awareness is crucial,” Kearns said.