Gone are the days of the crack epidemic. It’s still around, but now officials are worried about a drug that experienced its own “epidemic” several decades ago—worried that it might reach those same deadly levels again. Heroin arrests and emergency room visits have been steadily rising over the past several years and law enforcement officials are working to counteract the tide of addiction before it gets to unmanageable levels.
According to NorthJersey.com, the state is a “hub” for drug trafficking across the east coast. And though heroin has been here before, it’s affecting a new population—suburban young people.
The increase in prescription opiates is blamed for the rise in heroin across the country. Strong and highly addictive prescription drugs draw people in with potent highs. But once addicted, many don’t have the budget to keep the prescription addiction fed. This is where heroin comes in.
Also an opiate, heroin is much cheaper and stronger. This means it delivers more bang for your buck, so to speak, and creates an even bigger addiction problem.
In response, police across the state are working to execute arrests and get people into the criminal justice system. They hope by doing so they will be able to send a signal to others that heroin addiction will land you in jail. But, will their approach help or merely be another burden on the system?
Under Governor Christie, the state has seen an increase in drug court funding. This is promising, as drug courts are more focused on treating the problem of addiction rather than simply punishing the addict. With these courts, an addict can take responsibility for their crime in the eyes of the state, but they can also get access to drug treatment and counseling.
NorthJersey.com talked to one recovering addict, who was addicted by the age of 16. She started with prescription pain pills but was shooting up to 20 bags of heroin a day by the time she was arrested in 2009. A 20-bag habit is not one that will be cured with jail time, but only through intensive treatment.
Addicts are often treated as no-good criminals within the court system. When you are charged with a drug crime, you need someone on your side, working to get you the help you may need. If you’ve been accused of possession of heroin, cocaine, or even a marijuana offense, I may be able to help.