According to a recent study by the federal Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 129 Americans on average died from a drug overdose every day in 2014. New Jersey lost more than 1,200 people the same year as the state’s death rate due to heroin overdoses climbed to three times higher than the national rate. Unfortunately, this crisis is only getting worse, particularly in Middlesex County.
Between 2010 and 2014, heroin-related deaths in Middlesex County climbed by a shocking 420%. Within this period state and county legislators have expressed concern, held press events and talked about addressing this critical issue. Talk is cheap and it is appalling that so many of these politicians in our area only verbalized a commitment to stopping this scourge. However, I am encouraged by one individual who is committed to meeting this problem head-on—Peter Pisar, who is seeking to become Middlesex County Sheriff this upcoming Election Day.
Peter doesn’t just talk a good game but has a game plan and has reached far and wide to gain insight from people from all walks of like, e.g. doctors, police and especially those who are in long-term recovery like myself.
I know first-hand the devastating toll that this epidemic can take on someone and their loved ones. My substance use disorder due to heroin and prescription drugs nearly destroyed me, and over the last decade, overdose deaths claimed more than 200 people I have known.
Mr. Pisar has shown genuine concern and passion toward ending this crisis. He has attended many meetings held by substance abuse advocacy groups, including the New Brunswick Chapter of Young People in Recovery, where I serve as the organization’s employment lead. He talked about his plan which addresses important components such as targeting drug dealers, education for not only the kids in school, but their parents as well and creating strong partnerships with folks from various backgrounds, and unique perspectives, to assist him in his crusade.
Some public officials, including those up for election, have unfairly criticized Mr. Pisar’s plan while failing to provide their own strategies or address this challenge when it began years ago. I encourage Middlesex County voters to choose Peter Pisar at the voting booth this Tuesday but give him time to stop this emergency. After all, it wasn’t created overnight and can’t be remedied overnight.
Joseph R. Lakatos