Big news in the battle against heroin in New Jersey: Prevention and Treatment

The Trill Pill or Foolio D: What is in This Beverage May Surprise You
April 2, 2014
How easy is it really to get prescription painkillers from doctors?
April 3, 2014
Show all
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, and acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni listen as Dave Roden, of the New Hope Foundation during a roundtable discussion about Christie's Narcan pilot initiative. (Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, and acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni listen as Dave Roden, of the New Hope Foundation during a roundtable discussion about Christie’s Narcan pilot initiative. (Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

As of Wednesday, some New Jersey police officers will begin training. Training for what?

They will begin their training on how to use the overdose reversal drug naloxone better known as narcan. The specifics? Officers in Ocean and Monmouth counties will soon be trained to carry and administer the drug, which is injected through the nose and can reverse an overdose that would otherwise likely be fatal. It’s a pilot program, meaning it’s the first of its kind that Governor Christie talked about yesterday. And that isn’t all that Christie mentioned.

“The nation’s ‘War on Drugs’ has been a dismal failure,” said Christie. “Unless we recognize and call out the failure of the system and remove the stigma of dealing with addiction for what it really is – a disease – we won’t make progress.”

In Ocean County, heroin deaths have more than doubled from 53 in 2012 to 112 in 2013.

Christie signed a waiver allowing first responders in New Jersey to carry and administer the antidote last week. He previously signed the Overdose Prevention Act, a measure that shields someone overdosing on drugs and those who seek medical assistance from prosecution if they act in good faith, and gives parents of drug abusers and fellow addicts access to the anti-overdose drug.

A needle exchange in Atlantic City recently began holding the medication. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said the drug and the materials needed to administer it cost $50. Prosecutors from the two counties were on hand for the announcement Christie made, at a fire house in Brick Township, along with private treatment providers. Joseph Coronato, the prosecutor in Ocean County, said eight people died of overdoses in one week shortly after he was sworn in, leading him to quickly conclude the problem needed to be addressed head on.