New Jersey overdose deaths continue to increase as a result of the opioid epidemic. Many deaths come from fentanyl being mixed with street heroin for a deadly combination. What is being done to stop the crisis from getting worse?
In January of 2019, New Jersey was found to have set a record for overdose deaths for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2014, the overdose death rate in New Jersey has been on a steady increase. According to NJ Advance Media, “In 2018, New Jersey’s drug death toll set a record for the fourth state year, and now stands nearly four times what it was a decade ago, according to preliminary data collected by the state Attorney General’s Office.” (NJAM).
The New Jersey Governor is worried
Since January, Governor Phil Murphy has made the opioid crisis and drug overdose death rate a priority concern within his administration. In January, the Governor’s administration was very concerned about the overdose death rate and pledged to make it a priority in his office:
“Gov. (Phil) Murphy continues to be deeply troubled by the alarming number of families tragically affected by opioid-related deaths and recognizes that this epidemic continues to impact individuals struggling with addiction across New Jersey…The administration is actively working to combat each facet of this complex crisis by pursuing collaborative and data-driven public health and criminal justice strategies.” (NJAM)
Fortunately, Governor Murphy has kept his word and made progress in the fight against the opioid crisis in New Jersey. On June 7th, 2019 Governor Murphy Announced that there will be free Naloxone availability throughout the state of New Jersey at participating pharmacies. Per the Governor’s Office news announcement, “Today, Governor Phil Murphy announced the free distribution of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, at participating pharmacies throughout New Jersey on June 18, 2019” (NJGov).
How Can We Help with Overdoses
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose from heroin, prescription opiates, or Fentanyl. Naloxone is commonly injected into the patient’s muscle and will reverse the effects of opioid drugs, causing the overdose. It can also be administered intranasally (through the nose). Without Naloxone, the overdose death rate would be far worse.
“Through this initiative, people who are battling with addiction will be able to receive access to this critical medication and help them get on a path to recovery,” said Governor Phil Murphy.
Fentanyl is Becoming the Drug of Choice
Since 2014, the synthetic opioid Fentanyl has grown in popularity among drug dealers in New Jersey and much of the country. Fentanyl is spiking in popularity because of its powerful euphoric effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine…most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge to increase its euphoric effects.” (CDC)
Dealers cut heroin with Fentanyl to increase the potency of their product. Fentanyl is the source for the increase in drug overdose deaths in New Jersey and nationwide. “The spread of fentanyl in the United States over the last five years has resulted in record numbers of overdose deaths; it became the leading cause of overdose deaths in 2016 and contributed to 28,466 of the roughly 72,000 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted in 2017”(NYTimes).
Progress has also been made in stopping the flow of synthetic fentanyl into the country and its availability in New Jersey, helping reduce the growth and effects of the opioid crisis in general. The New York Times recently reported that Chinas leader, Xi Jinping, is fulfilling the promise he made to President Trump about Chinas involvement with the production of Fentanyl. Per the New York Times, April 2019:
“China announced on Monday that it would ban all variants of the powerful opioid fentanyl, a move that could slow the supply of a drug that in recent years has caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the United States…By declaring that all varieties of fentanyl are now controlled substances, China made good on a pledge that the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, made to President Trump late last year” (NYTimes).
Fentanyl and other opioids cause severe physical dependency because of their potency and physical dependence that causes withdrawal symptoms. Individuals addicted to Fentanyl and Heroin require professional help to stop abusing the drug. Our drug treatment programs utilize Medication Assisted Therapy also known as MAT to help you or your loved one get clean and sober for good.