February 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM
Editor's Note: Part 2 of The Alternative Press' three-part series on heroin use in New Jersey focuses on comments made by recently retired New Providence Deputy Chief of Police Scott Torre. Part 1 appeared on TheAlternativePress.com on Monday, Feb. 17, (http://thealternativepress.com/towns/scotch-plains-slash-fanwood/articles/heroin-abuse-and-availability-on-rise-in-new-jers), and Part 3 is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Heroin use is on the rise, and particularly in some of New Jersey's suburban communities, where easy access to prescription drugs can sometimes lead to dangerous addictions.
“Heroin has become a major problem in the state and is affecting all communities, including New Providence,” said recently retired New Providence Deputy Chief of Police Scott 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."
“At that forum, we had about 100 parents in the audience and we made a very significant impact on those who attended. One of the panelists was one of my former DARE students back in 1994, who, after high school, became addicted to heroin, which she was introduced to by a local boy. Parents were shocked to hear her tale of her cycle of addiction and the fact that she was like every other great kid that grows up here. The message was sent loud and clear that it can and does happen here. Thankfully, this young lady got her life together and is now married with two beautiful children and is employed at Daytop as a counselor.”
One of the catalysts for the increase in heroin use in middle- and upper-middle-class communities is the way prescription drugs sometimes serve as a gateway to a narcotic like heroin, according to Torre.
“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.”