Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III released new statistics showing that the heroin epidemic in Hunterdon County is getting worse. Hunterdon County had 40 overdoses reported by law enforcement in 2015 compared to 12 in 2014, which is a 333% increase. 2015 had 12 overdose fatalities compared to 8 in 2014; a 50% increase.
There was also a significant increase in overdoses among women.* 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 2012 2013 2014 2015 Number Reported Overdoses in Hunterdon County Heroin/Opiates Other Law Enforcement Reported Overdoses* Law Enforcement Reported Overdoses* According to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III,
“In 2015, police deployed Narcan 19 times and 16 people were saved. Without police administering Narcan, there may have been 16 more deaths.” Narcan, also known 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. The effects of an opiate can last up to four hours so overdose victims, even if revived by Narcan, still require medical attention. Hunterdon County Police Officers were trained and issued Narcan kits in 2014.
The Prosecutor continued, “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 our community is extreme as addicts may resort to crime to feed their addictions. This epidemic is everyone’s problem and it cannot be ignored. Preventing addiction, preventing death, and preserving the quality of life in Hunterdon County are of the utmost importance.”
The Prosecutor added, “The Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and it partners have sought to alert the public for the last several years that Hunterdon County is a part of this nationwide epidemic. It is obvious that the recent statistics are showing that this epidemic continues to worsen. 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. We will continue to work with our partners, Hunterdon Prevention Resources, Hunterdon Drug Awareness, Hunterdon Behavioral Health and our One Voice initiative.
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 family issue, it’s also a law enforcement and public health issue. Education and awareness remain crucial.” The Prosecutor also pointed out additional programs meant to help this epidemic.
The Overdose Protection Act was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Chris Christie in 2013 with the purpose of encouraging witnesses and victims of drug overdoses to seek medical assistance and save lives. In instances where evidence is obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance, those involved are protected from arrest, charge, prosecution, conviction, and revocation of parole or probation for possession or use of illegal drugs. The Overdose Prevention Act enables people to make the right decision in dialing 9-1-1. The Prosecutor’s START program (Steps To Action Recovery and Treatment) was launched in 2014 and is designed to provide direct referral information, contained in a prepared packet, to individuals who are believed to be suffering in the grips of addiction or other crisis.
The START Packet is given to individuals or to their families when they are released from jail, police custody, or the local hospital emergency room. START packets are also available at libraries and other government buildings in Hunterdon County. * These facts and figures include law enforcement reported overdoses only (not hospital or emergency related overdoses).
Anyone with information for law enforcement can submit anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-321-0010 or by going to www.crimestoppershunterdon.com, or text messaging “HCTIPS” plus your tip message to 274637 (CRIMES). Tipsters can also download the free mobile app “Tipsubmit” and select Hunterdon County to submit anonymous tips via text messaging. All tips are anonymous and kept confidential. For current events on the go, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/HunterdonCoPros For press releases visit our website at: http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/prosecutor/press.htm