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Christie, in Brick, Announces Launch of Heroin 'Antidote' Pilot

Christie: 'The war on drugs is failing,' as police officers begin carrying Narcan to reverse heroin overdoses

Gov. Chris Chrisitie addresses local at the Herbertsville Fire Company headquarters in Brick Township, April 2, 2014. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Gov. Chris Chrisitie addresses local at the Herbertsville Fire Company headquarters in Brick Township, April 2, 2014. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Saying the war on drugs is "failing," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that police departments in Ocean and Monmouth counties would begin equipping officers with Narcan, a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate drug overdose.

Police officers in three New Jersey towns – Seaside Heights, Surf City and Barnegat Township – will all be carrying the medication by Thursday with all of Ocean and Monmouth counties' police officers carrying the potentially life-saving medication within the next two weeks.

"Nothing is more important than protecting and saving lives," said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, who gave sobering statistics on Monmouth County's 70 heroin deaths last year compared with 11 homicides and vehicular homicides.

"You know what’s really killing people in our communities? It’s heroin and pill use," he said.

In Ocean County, there were more than 100 overdose deaths in 2013 – the largest of any county in the state.

Christie met with Gramiccioni and Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato before addressing local officials and volunteers at the Herbertsville Fire Company in Brick Township, one of the municipalities whose police department will soon be equipped with Narcan.

"It is time to stop stigmatizing those who have fallen to the illness of addiction," said Christie. "Most people start this through a mistake, a mistake in judgment, and who among us hasn’t made one of those. We cannot consider those people disposable."

For West Long Branch Police Chief Lawrence L. Mihlon, saving the lives of people overdosing on heroin is personal. His experience with the drug culminated with a call his department received last year.

"The call came from my house, because it was my son," he said. "I hear things in the press, that they should die. Well, not if it’s your kid. And it could be your kid."

Christie said the Narcan program will likely spread to all of New Jersey's counties quickly, though the pilot is only occurring in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Those counties have some of the state's highest heroin overdose rates.

Coronato has led the charge to equip emergency responders with the medication so they can administer it to overdose victims. Members of nearly all of Ocean County's police departments recently trained with the drug, which is inhaled by an overdose victim and temporarily restores the ability to breathe.

"The greatest social good is not always served by jail time," Christie said.
grace April 06, 2014 at 01:17 PM
you know what @ melinda i will..and also what a shame that you even have to know all this crap! speaks of what youve been thru. sorry :(
Heywood April 06, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Just tough it up and say your "Good-byes" to Junkie Joe or Jane and let them pass on quietly.
Lucio Argento April 08, 2014 at 08:31 AM
This is excellent proactive thinking on the part of whomever came up with the idea ( I'm sure it wasn't Christi as he hates addicts and would exterminate them if he could)! It is true though that Narcan throws the addict into instant opiate withdrawal and they are going to be upset (not because there life was just saved) because coming down from a place where you feel safe (addicts turn to drugs because fear drives them) and will instantly be thrown into for lack of a better term "culture shock". Immediate withdrawal is incredibly painful and psychologically devastating. They will become violent, they will rummage the ambulance or hospital for something to stick in their vein and not necessarily because they don't want to stop us in but because addiction is a monster that takes over all rational thought and drives one to insane decisions. If they see a saline injection on a med cart you can bet they will steal it even knowing it won't get then high but to fulfill there ritual of abuse and injecting things into there bodies. I saw a lot when I was a kid, I'm in my 50's now and clean for over 20 years. I'll explain the allure of heroin as simple as possible for those that don't understand. Just please make an honest attempt at feeling the scenario I am about to describe. Imagine being swaddled in a soft blanket like an infant, in perfect grace and comfort dreaming of the most beautiful things your imagination can design. Your warm and filled with love and protection, your warm, the perfect temperature flows throughout your body and the music of the most spiritual nature lulls you in and out that beautiful dream your floating in. You feel what it must be like to love and be loved and then IN ONE INSTANTANEOUS MOMENT IT ALL GETS SUCKED OUT OF YOU and now your lonelier then you've ever felt, your I've cold with goose pimple skin, lights are cutting you like ginsu knives painfully cutting to the bone while voices frantically ask you questions about how you feel but you can't talk...if you open your mouth you'll vomit. You have an overwhelming fear of dread and isolation. You most likely evacuates your bowels and don't even care you just want a blanket and a shot of something to take all this overwhelming anxiety and shut it off. You went from heaven to hell in 3 seconds and within a few minutes if you have a experienced nurse, doctor, or emt they give you a safe shot of liquid valium put a catheter in your urethra and tell you to get some rest. That is what it is like to go from a non fatal overdose to a shot of narcan! If they don't instruct the people (cops, emt workers ) to check vitals and make sure that the person can't be stabilized before administering narcan then yes you will have violent episodes of panic and a addict patient just wanting to get out of the ambulance or wherever they are as fast as possible. I REPEAT MY INITIAL STATEMENT THAT IT IS A GREAT IDEA TO SUPPLY FIRST RESPONDERS WITH THIS MEDICATION BECAUSE IT WILL SAVE LIVES BUT DONT JUST PUT IT IN THE MEDICAL KIT AND THINK IT WORKS AS EASY AS GLUCOSE ON A DIABETIC. They need training on how and when to use it and how to defend themselves so a cop don't shoot an addict attacking him for waking him up from the safest, most comforting place he has ever been able to find. I doubt I got to many people to see the point of view from an addicts mind but in order to save them you need to understand them. I hope for the sake of all the children and older addicts they can make a narcan statewide program work but believe me it's not like giving someone an aspirin, glass of water and sayin see ya in the morning!
Mattie April 08, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Thank you Lucio for taking the time and making the effort trying to help people really understand - instead of merely judging. I doubt it will make any difference to the majority of these cruel and narrow minded individuals here who are condemning addicts and refusing to see them as sick human beings.... but your effort is appreciated just the same.
Christopher Tang May 07, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Thank you Lucio for your descriptions. I have to say I'm not one to follow politics much. However, as a "social worker" and one who understands this issue from both sides of the fence, I will make a few comments. I do not know Christie on a personal level to comment how I feel about him personally. However, I will say that I was taken back this morning when I saw graduates of Gloucester Counties Drug Court program graduating. Congratulations to them! That's significant for the graduates. While we're maing it seem that the State is making 'resources" available to addicts it still NEEDS to be made KNOWN that DRUG COURT in and of itself IS NOT treatment. Again, it's a BRANCH of the JUDICIAL system. Our financial resources, are being DIVERTED from where the ACTUAL need is into a system (i.e., COURT and Criminal Justice) system to take care of a social issue that the SYSTEM itself has NOT BEEN and IS NOT currently capable of addressing. There still is no real county funding available for substance abuse. But, there appears to be funding to house people in the County Jails, to hopefully spin-dry them clean, then spit them out on the street to say "go fend for yourself" with little to no follow-up, etc. I should say welcome to NJ everydone.

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