I live in Ocean County, New Jersey and am witnessing the opiate epidemic that is plaguing this community as well the United States first hand. As of August 29, 2013 the Ocean County has recorded 83 opiate deaths by overdose. Authorities are saying the culprit is Oxycodone and Heroin, linking either one of these two drugs to every overdose except one. The numbers for the county reached 53 overdose deaths in all of 2012 and are quickly coming close to doubling that number in 2013.
The county's top officials have decided to intervene and try to get a hold of the situation. The campaign begins on August 31st also known as International Overdose Awareness Day, it is a day to remember those who have overdosed and the families and friends who have lived with the tragedy ever since. It was started in Australia in 2001 and is held every year on August 31st.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato has been making a giant impact on the community. If you pay any attention to local news, you can see the increase and success of many police raids and arrests. He has said multiple times that his main goal is to clean up this drug issue. Coronato is quoted as saying the heroin problem in Ocean County is “epidemic.”
The Ocean County Opiate Task Force will be comprised of the Health Department, Prosecutor's Office, and several other agencies. They will be hosting many events throughout the year. A spokeswoman for the Health Department says, “We're trying to create an entire year of events.” She also added, “We're looking at as many avenues as we can: This is something that has to stop.”
So far, the Ocean County Opiate Task Force is holding a Town-Hall meeting on September 9th at Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood, a Drug Awareness weekend on October 18th and 19th at Ocean County Mall, a prosecutor's forum on October 24th at PineBelt Arena in Toms River, on Back-To-School nights, officers from the prosecutor's office will be educating the parents about the opiate problems.
This task force is something that needed to be created. I applaud Joseph D. Coronato for taking the steps with the Health Department to take action and try to put a dent into this rapidly growing epidemic. This issue is happening in my own backyard and I am glad action is being taken.