Governor to Address Spike in Heroin Use

Craig D. Frazier | 6/5/2014, 10:46 a.m.

Last week, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA) in New Jersey announced a campaign to help address heroin use across the state. New Jersey is home to some of the purest heroin in the nation. In addition, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is working on several proposals to address drug abuse, according to Celina Gray, acting executive director for GCADA.

Monmouth County’s Chief of Detectives Michael Pasterchick reported that the purity of street samples can be as high as 95 percent. The national average for heroin purity is a little above 31 percent, according to the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office.

A report released by the Task Force on Heroin and Other Opiate Use by New Jersey’s Youth and Young Adults identifies heroin and opiate abuse as “the number one health care crisis” confronting the state. It notes a five-year increase of more than 200 percent in the number of admissions to licensed or certified treatment programs for prescription drug abuse and a 700 percent increase over the last decade.

From 2010 through 2013, New Jersey saw some 4,300 drug-related deaths. Nearly 40 heroin overdoses were reported last month around Camden alone.

Christie’s proposed $33 billion budget dedicates $4.5 million in increased funding for the drug courts and $1 million toward employment services in the program. Community Mental Health and Addiction Services were budgeted a total of $406 million, roughly level with last year.

Using tax money from electronic cigarettes for anti-drug abuse initiatives, freeing up the use of empty hospital beds for drug treatment and updating the drug-prevention curriculum in schools are among the ideas being put forward by legislators.