Ocean Township: This past week Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni came to the Ocean Township High School to speak before an audience of approximately 350 concerned residents about the heroin problem in Ocean Township.
The hour long presentation was meant to “shock and awe” the audience by using intense graphics and powerful videos that told the true story of heroin’s seductive, addictive, and destructive grip.
“Since 1999 to 2010 there has been a 45 percent increase of heroin use nationwide,” Gramiccioni said.
Locally, the numbers have fluctuated; however, they too are on the rise as well. There is little doubt that heroin use has become what Gramiccioni calls an “epidemic.”
Data indicates that those addicted to heroin turn to the drug as an alternative to prescription pain medication abuse such as Oxycodone or Percocet. These pills have an estimated street value of $35 to $40 a piece. Addicts will often need upwards of 5 pills or more to get the high they are looking for. There are strong substance abuse research indicators that show that pill abuse will often lead to heroin use in teenagers and young adults and this trend is not going away. At this cost, their addiction is very expensive.
Heroin on the other hand is cheap costing only $6, $8, or $10 a bag. Hardcore addicts can use upwards of 15 bags of dope per day making this the drug of choice. Since heroin is cheaper, addicts are able to find large quantities of the drug relatively easily.
“Heroin provides a false promise” while using the drug. This effect comes from how the drug is manufactured. Heroin is an opioid that can be injected, smoked, and snorted. Though we traditionally think of Heroin as a “mainline” drug, children today are not shooting it as much as they are snorting or smoking it. Like cocaine, heroin is easy to conceal and easy to use and can be hard to detect without knowing what to look for.
The majority of the drug comes from Columbia and is prevalent from Maine to Florida. Since New Jersey is directly between two major heroin markets, New York and Philadelphia, drug enforcement agencies have estimated that the heroin coming into New Jersey is almost 95% pure. Clearly, Monmouth County is directly in the crossfire of this “epidemic” and there is little stopping the path of destruction.
This past year there were two major drug raids one in Long Branch and one in Neptune at which time 55 people were arrested. This organization moved approximately $10,000 a week in rich, clean, pure heroin to surrounding affluent communities.
Heroin “does not discriminate” and has become more pervasive in the suburbs. Dealers and middlemen have targeted towns like Ocean, Wall, Manasquan, Spring Lake and others because of their affluence and because the children are looking to get high.
Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of such rampant drug use is that the community is negatively impacted. In this case, addicts are targeting cars and homes looking for “pawnable” items such as cellphones, iPods, jewelry, and cash. This unrest in the community is making people uneasy in their own homes. Clearly, the heroin problem in Monmouth County has led to a rise in suburban crime. When this happens everyone in the community suffers.
As the presentation continued Gramiccioni’s use of powerful slides showed the audience the direct impact of the drug. In 2013, heroin killed 57 people. However, that number is expected to rise to over 70 after all the toxicology and medical examiner reports have been completed later this year. To put this in perspective, in 2013 there were 13 homicides, 27 highway or driving fatalities, and 57 confirmed heroin deaths in the county. Heroin is responsible for killing more people than murder and accidents combined.
With the presentation winding down Gramiccioni took questions from the audience. Concerned parents discussed social issues such as “supervised” parties and the need to “watch” their children as they entertain. Arguably, these actions do more harm than good because parents really do not know what their children or their friends are doing in their homes.
With each question concern grew. Several parents echoed statements like, “watch your children of you will lose them,” or, “watch out for everybody.” Additionally, parents wanted to know how many students were using in Ocean Township. Furthermore, parents wanted to know where students were getting the smack from.
At the end of the session, one parent who remained nameless, begged the audience to watch their children. Watch their actions and to look for the warning signs. And then it happened. The nameless woman asked the hardest question of the night, “How many of you know someone with a heroin problem?” Silence filled the auditorium as she made her point. There was a reason why 350 people came to listen but no one came to speak about how the drug rips apart households, destroys families, and is killing young children. Clearly she knew the answer and clearly she was negatively affected by heroin’s nasty stronghold. Though she did not intend to take away from the presentation, her perfectly timed question, snapped everyone back into reality and instantly, the audience realized that Ocean Township is no longer a “Maybury” community that can ignore the impact of this growing “epidemic.”
For more information about this issue please reach out to Charles Webster, Public Information Officer of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. (732) 431-7160 x 7535
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