With the opiate epidemic taking lives all over the country, state officials have been looking for new ways to help curb the overdose rates. In my home county of Ocean in New Jersey, our prosecutor James D. Coronato has made a giant impact in the opiate abuse problem. It seems that almost every day you open the newspaper, he and his office are doing something pro-active to help the community fight back. He has started an opiate task force that meets a few times a month to discuss opiate abuse and to educate the public. He has conducted drug sweeps in our local schools to keep drugs out of the hallways and doing whatever he can in his power to keep kids aware of the drug problem. Coronato has been an advocate for drug courts which puts people convicted of drug-related crimes in a program that gives them help rather than jail.
There is no question that Ocean County and it's officials are doing everything they can to help the opiate issue. In 2013, Ocean County, NJ reported 112 drug overdose deaths. This was the highest number of fatalities in the counties history. Ocean County is very close to New York City and Philadelphia which is a major tourist area in the summer which makes it prime real estate for drug activity. A program that is very popular in the county is that when a drug dealer is arrested, they seize all belongings of the dealer including their homes and cars. These items are auctioned off if the dealer is convicted and the proceeds from the auction go to funding drug programs that have been put into place.
The program that seems to be making the largest impact is the Narcan program. Narcan is the name brand of the drug Naloxone. The drug has been around since the 1970's. It's sole purpose is to reverse of an opiate overdose. It has been used in hospitals for decades. It is non-narcotic, non-habit forming, very cheap and most importantly works very well. It comes in an injectable form or a nasal spray. The drug has recently been approved for home use. If someone who lives in your home uses opiates and you are worried about their safety, a doctor can prescribe you the drug to keep in your home in case of an emergency.
The drug is very easy to administer. When an opiate addict is in the middle of an overdose, they normally die due to respiratory failure. Using Narcan reverses the affects. Simply inject the drug or if you have the spray, administer it in the nose. In a very high percentage of cases, this reverses the overdose and the victim becomes conscience. Because of the Prosecutor's office, Narcan is also in the hands of first responders like police officers and EMS which is also saving lives.
In late May of 2014. Ocean County had 3 victims of opiate overdoses live to see another day because Narcan was administered by responding police. All 3 overdoses were in a 12-hour period! 3 lives were saved in 12 hours is scary and amazing at the same time. Getting a second chance at life for an opiate addict doesn't happen too often. I hope these survivors take this second chance and get clean.