by MEGAN ROMANCZUK Section Editor
The heroin problem in New Jersey has escalated tremendously over the past few months, and the drug has found its way to young adults ranging from 18-25, as well as high school students.
In Ocean County, there were 53 drug overdose deaths in 2012. In September alone, heroin or prescription drugs have killed 89 people. One death every three days was linked to heroin in 43 of those deaths.
Heroin is an ideal drug for teenagers because it does not need to be injected. Instead, it can be inhaled or smoked. The drug is also very cheap – a bag of heroin is five dollars on the streets.
Heroin is an emetic drug, meaning that the first time it is tried, users experience nausea and puking. However, instead of feeling worse the next day, the drug makes users feel better.
One in four people who try heroin will become addicted; it is the second most addictive drug behind nicotine.
Most of New Jersey’s heroin supply is flown into Newark International Liberty Airport. A person sneaks the drug onto the plane by cutting the fingers of a rubber glove off, filling the fingers with heroin, sealing the fingers, then swallowing them. When the plane lands and customs is cleared, the person who brought the drug over meets up with the dealer where they pass over the heroin bags.
“No wonder why heroin is such a huge problem in New Jersey if a drug dealer can easily bypass airport security with a drug inside of them, then that just shows we aren’t trying our hardest to stop the problem,” says sophomore Kyle Daly
Another way heroin reaches New Jersey is by being driven across the border near Pennsylvania in lower-profile areas. The supply is then stashed at a planned location, usually Newark, where it is first bagged, then sold.
The purity of the drug is often at 46 percent, and some are even at 63 percent in certain areas of New Jersey. Selling pure heroin will hook new users, and the dealer will be able to cut down the purity, leading to bigger profits. He may supply a more pure product to the users who have a higher tolerance.
Heroin dealers go through extremes to protect themselves from police. Some dealers hide heroin in a car compartment or false-bottom suitcases. Other dealers will liquify the heroin and soak the heroin into clothes. To extract the drug from clothing, they use a chemical method to turn the liquid version into powder.
On August 11 in Howell, New Jersey, police collected 1,100 bags of heroin, worth $12,000. Another raid happened in Berkeley when detectives found 100 grams of heroin worth between $22,500-$37,500.
When a person overdoses on a drug and is released from the hospital, he or she tends to go right back to the streets to abuse the drug once again.
Treatment for drug addiction should be taken more seriously, especially when heroin abuse is becoming a bigger trend in the United States. Those who do suffer with a drug addiction should have therapy, counseling, and a mental-health follow up.
“It’s crazy that even programs specified for addiction do not get the support they should get. Abusing drugs is a serious issue and the abuser won’t get the right treatment if we don’t have the right funding,” says senior Nicole Glessman.
In New Jersey, the state had 361 substance abuse treatment facilities with a total of 6,086 beds. Ocean County has one detox facility, whereas Monmouth County has two.
It is also important to make laws against drug dealers more serious, including the severity of the drug charge. Heroin possession is a third-degree crime with no jail-time, leaving the dealers to become abusive.
New Jersey as a state is committed to stopping the ongoing heroin addiction, but the of lack programs and treatment is a huge predicament. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse said that three percent of state spending for addiction problems actually go to prevention. The other 97 percent go to prisons, healthcare, or other programs.
How can New Jerseyans stop the growing trend of heroin addiction and death?