Drug addiction has become an epidemic in America. The death toll from drug overdose has escalated even in the past year, especially from heroin and prescription drug use. The statistics are staggering. In our backyard, Ocean County, NJ, the overdose death toll in 2012 was 53. In 2013 (up to the end of November), there have been 102 deaths. That number is expected to rise to 120 by New Year’s Eve. Most of those deaths were from heroin or pain pills. The police have been approved to begin carrying Narcan, a heroin overdose antidote, in an attempt to stem the tide of overdoses. The majority of deaths occured in the 18 to 24-year-old range. People no longer have to go to the inner city “drug” areas to find heroin. It is readily available in the suburbs.
Pain pills are said to be the gateway drugs that lead to the heroin dealer’s doorstep. Pain pills are very expensive on the street, plus there is a statewide registry of all pain pill purchases in NJ (not true of all states currently), so it is more difficult to “doctor shop” for prescriptions of opiates. Heroin is readily available without a prescription and is much cheaper. Many people start out smoking or snorting the heroin, thinking that it is “safer” than shooting it; however, overdose deaths can occur with any means of using it. Often people think that they would never shoot it but eventually graduate to the faster fix of IV heroin use.
Across the country, drug deaths outnumber deaths from auto accidents.