Deadly epidemic quietly ravaging suburban communities
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
[Name redacted], 20, of Tomkins Cove, a popular local musician in the band Truth Be Told, was arrested Monday, May 13, charged with possession of 2.1 grams of heroin (enough for several persons to overdose on) and a small quantity of marihuana.
On the heels of this arrest, at last week’s town board meeting, Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore took note of a still growing problem in Stony Point and throughout Rockland County: the abuse of opioids, especially heroin, by young people, often leading to overdose and death. These deaths are not always reported in the media, Chief Moore noted, as patients are sometimes checked in to the hospital for other reasons, such as dehydration.
Moore said these days heroin problems often take root when young persons raid their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinet for prescription pills. They figure, since the pills are legal, they are safe.
However, prescription meds like Oxycodone or Oxycontin contain the same chemical opioids from the poppy plant as heroin, and are very addictive. Once a habit is formed, young people often start searching out heroin, which is actually cheaper. Unfortunately, heroin is also the most addictive and deadly drug on the black market and is well known to wreak havoc on the lives of users and their families.
This past week the northern New Jersey newspaper the Bergen Record released a series highlighting problems with heroin in their county. The Record found that, “The majority of heroin-related arrests, overdoses, and deaths reported in Bergen County over the past year were young, white and middle class. Of the 47 non-fatal heroin overdoses reported to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in 2012 — and there were likely more that went unreported — a third were 21 years old or younger. All but nine were under age 30.”
One person interviewed by the Record was “John” from Rockland County. Like many others in the region John drives to heroin-mecca Paterson, New Jersey. “Kids get bored,” John, a 20-year-old, told the Record. “A huge factor is boredom.”
He has already been arrested but that hasn’t stopped him. Like Chief Moore described, “John” started using pills at age 14, stealing OxyContin from his terminally ill father, and has been using heroin on and off for more than two years.
He lives at home with mom, who doesn’t know about his issues, and even gives him cash when he needs it. He also works a job and most of his money not spent on essentials like food and gas, about $30,000 per year, is funneled into his heroin habit, he said.
Chief Moore said at Tuesday night’s meeting that parents should clear out their medicine cabinets of any potentially addictive substances they are not currently legitimately under prescription to use. The town police sometimes hold a special event allowing residents the opportunity to dispose of such pills safely, no questions asked. Stay tuned for the next announced event, he said.
[Note: heroin is even deadlier when combined with other drugs or alcohol]