Heroin use continues to rise in New Jersey, and officials are particularly taking notice as the “heroin epidemic” hits our wealthier communities and affects upper-middle class families. In the past, residents in these communities, such as New Providence, hoped their children and families were safe from the epidemic that has been plaguing New Jersey but a recent report from the retired New Providence Deputy Chief of Police, Scott Torre confirms that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Torre attributed the widespread increase of heroin use in middle class and upper-middle class communities to prescription drug painkillers which serve as a gateway to harder narcotics such as heroin.
“Heroin has become a major problem in the state and is affecting all communities, including New Providence,” said Torre. “We have seen a considerable uptick in heroin use in New Providence which mimics almost all of the communities in Union County. In New Providence, our Municipal Alliance took a very proactive stand in New Providence by exposing the fact that we have a problem in New Providence with heroin use at our Public Forum we held at Morris Union Jointure Commission on Nov. 11.” The public forum was held to educate local residents and parents to raise awareness and learn about the presence of heroin in the community. Forum speakers included former addicts from the area who shared their stories during a panel.
“One suggestion I would make to parents is to be very cautious with any medicines they may have been prescribed. In many cases, the first experience some of these kids have is with drugs they take from their own medicine cabinet,” Torre said. “This is the reason the NPPD has been participating in Operation Take Back, a prescription drug turn-in, for the past three years. We run that program twice a year and all drugs are turned over to the DEA for destruction. We have collected in excess of 100 pounds of drugs each time we run this program.” “Take a look at statewide statistics for overdose deaths,” Torre said. “In Union County, we have had about 30 countywide (in 2013), whereas Ocean County has reported 96, where they had only about 60 all of (2012). This is a huge concern to all law enforcement statewide.”
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