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New Jersey is Facing The Opiate Epidemic

Opioid abuse cases are skyrocketing all across the country. I have been saying for years that it is not linked to any specific area, social class, city or suburb. From thousands of conversations over the past 4 years I can assure you that every town, large or small, is affected by this growing epidemic. Opioid abuse is like a wildfire growing out of control, with high winds, dry land and limited means of water to control it. Yes this is an analogy but it is very similar to the epidemic we are facing. We have a problem that is almost impossible to stop. We may have thousands of people trying to fight this epidemic, but the means of curbing it are very limited. The fight against opiate abuse is something that needs our societies backing. When society realizes how out of control this issue really is, maybe then we can get legislature to put more money towards programs to educate the public, create cheaper rehabilitation facilities, and provide more options for addicts. Yes, it will cost the tax payers money but the amount of crime linked to this issue is astounding, especially in suburban areas that are not used to it.

According to a recent calculation of numbers based on substance abuse admissions to treatment facilities in my home state of New Jersey, the problem is not connected to any specific area. According to the numbers, the cities with the highest admissions run through 8 different counties across the NJ. My home town of Toms River is ranked number 8 which had over 110 overdoses in 2013. Up almost 100% from the year prior.

People want answers as to why this problem is becoming so widespread. The answer is complicated and so is the solution. The over prescribing of medication is one of the lead causes of the increase in opiate abuse. These medications are extremely powerful and given to many patients who may not need them. Tolerance builds fast, and someone who is on the medications for legit pain may soon find themselves needing larger doses to help with the pain.

Once larger doses are taken, a cycle of being prescribed more pills usually ensues. The patient becomes addicted to the painkillers and wants more to keep feeling sick from withdrawals.  Then when the pain wears off, it's possible that the user is addicted to the euphoric feeling that the opiates give.

If one is unable to get a doctor to prescribe them more opiates, there is no shortage of black market dealers or pill mills willing to supply the user.  The habit is pretty easy to keep for the first couple of months because the price does not hinder a lifestyle change, but over time the problem becomes very expensive as tolerance builds and more pills are necessary to take. What started out as a bad decision to keep playing with fire has now led to a dangerous and deadly addiction to opioids. They user starts to make changes in their life based around their need for the opiates.

When this becomes too much for the addict to handle, they soon realize that they can accomplish the same high by abusing heroin. What was once a legal prescription to a medication prescribed by a licensed physician, has now blossomed into a heroin addiction. This is something that the majority of the public could never fathom happening to them but this is exactly what the majority of the people I talk to tell me. It is an all too common story of people who have danced with the devil and lost. It does not matter what city you live in or what your social background is, these prescription painkillers are not something you want to abuse. It will turn your life upside down. I promise you that.

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