As I have mentioned in previous posts this has now reached “Epidemic” status in New Jersey. The NJ Authorities now say “no community, however affluent or remote, is immune to the circumstances and impact of this trend. ” According to the 2010 report there were 843 drug related deaths , of which 402 were solely attributed to prescription drugs. The total number in 2011 jumped to 1008! The results of a 2 year investigation are being released today, with a press conference this morning.
I have previously highlighted how we need to enforce the prescription monitoring bill already passed here in the state. We have already committed resources to add substance (drug, alcohol) detox facilities in the state, with full facilities under construction Sunrise Detox Toms River and Sunrise Detox Cherry Hill.
How is this epidemic affecting the States Economy ? According to the old report “Beyond the devastation of lost lives, law enforcement authorities at multiple levels told the Commission that the drug trade and the resulting imperative of addiction have produced spikes in burglaries and other crimes of theft all across New Jersey”
We will find out shortly what they’ve learned since 2010, but the inside chatter suggests it won’t be good. All of the bad numbers are way up, in some cases to unbelievable levels, and while some of the “good numbers” are also up (such as the number of treatment beds planned by Sunrise Detox), most are not up nearly enough.
In many areas of drug abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment, the old way of doing things is no longer adequate. “More” of the same will not achieve the desired results. The 2010 report ended with that idea for moving forward:
“The record of this investigation demonstrates that the challenges posed by drug abuse have taken on disturbing new dimensions that call into question the conventional wisdom regarding gateway drugs and addiction, and the adequacy of current medical oversight and law enforcement strategies. We now live in a State where the abuse of legitimate prescription pills serves increasingly as a route to the unlawful world of heroin, which is cheap, widely available and so pure it can be used without the junkie stigma or mess of needles while producing a high matching or exceeding that of any legitimate pharmaceutical painkiller. This tangled intersection of legal and illicit narcotics constitutes a crisis whose multiple consequences are plain for all to see: the countless deaths and damaged lives, the spiking crime, the subverted recesses of the medical and pharmaceutical professions, the exploitation by gangs and other criminal elements.”