“Each day in New Jersey we lose two family members to opiate abuse,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “It’s an issue that we’ve seen grow to epidemic levels in the state of New Jersey. And one of the ways we are going to be able to reverse these trends is through education.” Mr. Valente was speaking earlier this month at a town hall meeting in which they discussed new ways to help curb the abuse.
Losing 2 people per day to opiate abuse in NJ affects literally thousands of people. Those 2 people have friends, family members, classmates, and more. What people need to realize is that opiate abuse is now affecting people from all races, ages, religions, and social classes. It's an epidemic which is only getting worse.
Secaucus, NJ recently installed drop boxes for prescription medications at their local police station. The goal of the drop boxes is to get potentially deadly medication off the street once it's no longer needed. The first day the drop box was installed, the local police department collected 38 pounds of prescription medications! These thousands of pills were removed from homes that could have easily fallen into the wrong hands. By allowing people to get rid of the drugs legally it will help to stop friends and family members from snooping around medicine cabinets looking for a quick high. Most heroin users start off using prescription painkillers, and many times those painkillers are found in a friend or family members home. Education on the dangers of opiates should be our main priority for our communities.
“The education component is much needed,” said Tom Allen, CEO of Summit Behavioral Health, a drug and alcohol treatment facility. “I keep hearing time and time again from my clients that they’re being exposed to prescription drugs not from a pusher on the street or in their schools, but from their mom and dad’s medicine cabinet. Dental work that was done a year ago and mom left a prescription there for 30 Vicodin and forgot all about it, and that’s where the kids are more becoming exposed.”
This is a real problem plaguing not only NJ, but the entire country. Kids are talking with their friends in school about how they can get high from prescription pain medications. They then search their parents medicine cabinets and experiment with the drugs. It's common for them to share with their friends. Some opiates are strong enough that one pill alone can kill. People who are prescribed opiates from their doctors need to keep their medication under lock and key to keep it out of the wrong hands. When they no longer need it, they need to dispose of it properly.
Keeping the drugs out of the reach of friends and family will certainly save lives. Drop boxes are becoming more popular across the country as a cheap and easy way for people to dispose of the drugs.
Prescription painkillers have become the new gateway drug that is leading many users to eventually make the switch to heroin. A painkiller addiction can easily become very expensive. Heroin is in the same class of opiates as painkillers and offer the same high. The main difference is that Heroin is usually cut (or mixed) with other drugs in order for the dealers to make more profit. What the drugs are mixed with varies from dealer to dealer. This allows the potency of the heroin to vary from bag to bag, making it very easy to overdose on. It's great to see New Jersey is taking steps to help get opiates off of the street. This will certainly save lives and hopefully more states will soon follow.