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Last updateWed, 13 Feb 2019 2pm

Editorial

Opiate Epidemic In New Jersey

default article imageToday, all over the news you might see or read about another person tragically dying from an opiate related overdose. According to the National Safety Council, you are more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose, 1 in 96 deaths, than a motor vehicle accident, 1 in 103. This is the first time in recorded history that opioid overdose became the leading cause of death in the U.S.

In Monmouth County, we might see this more when compared to the rest of the country. In New Jersey, Monmouth County has three towns that have the top 30 most heroin overdoses in the state which include Middletown, Asbury Park, and Keansburg, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

An opiate is a substance that acts on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including Fentanyl and Vicodin. Heroin is a form of an opiate that most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. If a person takes too much of an opiate, they can overdose, which symptoms include slow, shallow breathing, unresponsiveness, and can lead to cardiac arrest and death if left untreated.

Some editors at The Outlook know people from their childhood who either are addicted to an opiate or have tragically died from an opiate related overdose.

“I know of a couple of people in my high school class who have been killed by overdoses on heroin. My town is still grappling with the epidemic,” one editor said. “I know countless people that I grew up with that either currently are addicted to heroin or another opiate, and some that even overdosed and died from it. It is almost a numb feeling at this point, it is that common.”

The problem also affects some celebrities, like Demi Lovato, Robert Downey Jr., and Robin Williams to name a few. Some editors feel that celebrities can make the epidemic seem worse.

“I think that it does negatively affect it. I think people think if celebrities can do it anyone can or if a celebrity is using, then why can’t they,” one editor said.

“I think that celebrities overdosing does affect the epidemic in a negative way. If people, see celebrities getting involved with drugs like heroin then they feel like they can as well. Many celebrities, deserving or not, are looked up to as role models and some people might think that it is okay to do the things that they do, regardless of the consequences,” another editor added.

If you go on social media when someone overdoses on drugs, you can see two sides to it. Some people feel bad for them and wish they could beat the addiction, while others might say negative things about it, that they started it themselves and it is their fault for the addiction.

One consensus among editors is that they feel bad for people who are addicted to opiates and other drugs. “I feel a great deal of empathy toward those that are dealing with drug issues because a lot of people don’t understand the power of the addictive personality as well as being in an environment where there might not be better choices available to them,” one editor said. 

Another editor said “I absolutely feel bad for people who overdose. Something that people seem to forget is that addiction is a disease, just like anything else. We need to be sympathetic and be supportive toward those who are struggling, not dismissive.”

Naloxone, or the more common brand name Narcan, is a way to treat a narcotic overdose that emergency personnel and even family members can administer it. Narcan can be bought at any pharmacy in some states, including New Jersey. 

Some feel that Narcan, when used multiple times on one person, makes it so that addicts don’t take the steps needed to try and cure their addiction. “I think that first responders need to help them because every life is precious and at the end of the day it is their job,” one editor said. 

One editor, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), said “Whenever I revive someone who overdoses, I try and tell them that because of what they did, they could have died if it wasn’t for Narcan. I tell them that the next time, they might not be so lucky, and I try to tell those steps they can take to try and fight the addiction.”

Another editor added their opinion on first responders who treat repeat patients. “I would think the best strategy to approach this would be a two-strike policy. An overdose patient is given Narcan once, that’s one strike. Second time it happens, Narcan again. But their chart should indicate how many times Narcan was administered and if their second strike is up, do not revive them. Sounds a little barbaric, but I feel it needs to be.”

Here at Monmouth, the University has the Office of Substance Awareness. According to the office, they offer students alcohol and other drug related information, prevention, assessment, short term counseling and referral services. A full-time licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor is located in the Health Center.

The counselor assists students with a substance abuse problem or those who are concerned about someone who does by providing guidance and information

Confidential appointments can be made Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

If you or someone you know suffers with substance abuse, please call Suanne Schaad, LPC, LCADC, Substance Awareness Coordinator, at 732-263-5804 or send e-mail to substanceawareness@monmouth.edu, or call the National Drug Helpline at 1-888-633-3239.

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Monmouth University
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