Home Ocean County As Overdoses Skyrocket, High Schools Now Have Narcan on Hand

As Overdoses Skyrocket, High Schools Now Have Narcan on Hand

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(File Photo/Shorebeat)
(File Photo/Shorebeat)

A testament to the strength of heroin’s grip on Ocean County – and the length to which officials are going to combat it – officials this week announced that the county’s Narcan program has reached local high schools.

Narcan, the trade name of naloxone, a substance that temporarily reverses an opiate overdose to allow a victim to be revived by first responders, has been deployed to police officers and EMTs since 2014. Ocean County, largely thanks to a push from Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, was the first county whose responders carried the drug, which is now deployed statewide. The stocking of Narcan – administered through an inhaled device – in high schools comes as the county experienced a skyrocketing number of overdose deaths.

Coronato announced Thursday that high school nurses, athletic trainers and student assistance coordinators will be able to equip themselves with Narcan under a new program being sponsored by his office through a partnership with Adapt Pharma and Georgian Court University. Local school officials received training in the administration of the drug at the university campus this week and were given a free dose to take back to their workplaces.

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All of the county’s school districts are participating in the program, officials said. School officials requested access to the drug out of concern not only for students, but members of the community in attendance at school events or anyone on campus who might be addicted.

Narcan is being expanded to high school campuses as the toll of addiction is more pronounced than ever in Ocean County. Despite the drug having been carried by police officers and EMTs all year, the county had tracked a record-breaking 180 overdose deaths by Monday of this week. A total of 445 people had been revived by Narcan. It is already guaranteed that 2016 will go down as the deadliest year since the epidemic of addiction began in earnest in 2012. That year, 53 people died of overdoses. In 2013, the number of deaths doubled to 112, before falling to 103 in 2014. Last year, there were 118 deaths.

Coronato said it is likely there will be about 200 deaths by the end of the year, many of which will have been traced to the presence of fentanyl – a powerful opiate pain relieve usually reserved for terminally ill patients – in heroin, as drug dealers seek to make their products more and more potent to win sales.

“Dealers who are relentless in their efforts to profit from the misery and deaths of others have now resorted to dealing deadly doses laced with powerful synthetic opiates in order to combat our initiatives and to increase their addictive grip on user,” Coronato said. “Law Enforcement cannot address this evil alone.”


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  • Michael Mitrow

    We can give away Narcan to save the life of a freaking drug addict, but parents can’t afford the price of an EpiPen to save their child’s life from an allergic reaction. I think our priorities are really messed up.

    • Donna Ambrose Macaluso

      So, you would rather see the “freaking drug addict” die? A little empathy and compassion go a long way. The epipen fiasco is the fault of the drug company. Do not equate the two. I need an epipen myself so I get the frustration, but it has nothing to do with this.

      • Michael Mitrow

        I don’t see any compassion for the parents who can’t afford the EpiPen. How many children have died from an allergic reaction because the parents didn’t have an EpiPen, because of the cost? Who sets the price is irrelevant, the point is, Narcan is available for any person at any time who chooses to OD, a bad choice, but still a choice. Not so with an allergic reaction, I pray to God that a pen is available should you, or any other person ever need it. If I was ever in that position to choose, I would certainly save your life 1st from an allergic reaction, the drug addict would be second. Just my opinion.

  • Mac

    Even though this prosecutor would call a press conference to announce the sun is smiling due to no reported heroin deaths last night, this seems like a responsible program that should be extended into junior high schools also, but without the fanfare.

    • Mark Story Jenks

      Why do you feel that way? You don’t think the general public should know about it?

      • Mac

        Priorities and politics. Are EpiPens in high schools for general use? Are there seat belts in use on school buses? These services affect the security of many more students, whether they are doing drugs or not. I always support the general public being informed, but I’m not much for grandstanding the point to teenagers that they have a safety net if they try heroin in school (one known case in another county). That said, I don’t have a problem with this program, and am happy to see the prosecutor is finally focusing more on pills as the highway to heroin instead of weed.

      • Donna Ambrose Macaluso

        EpiPens cannot be in schools for general use. They are prescribed to individuals and yes anyone who needs an epipen leaves a spare in the nurses office under their name if needed. Yes there are seat-belts on the buses. I wouldn’t call narcan a safety net as it can cause its own issues like seizures and brain damage.

      • Mac

        Yes and no on the EpiPens. Like Narcan, those that can’t afford it weren’t addressed, but now Narcan has been. As for seat belts, I must have missed that grand announcement that all school buses are now equipped with seat belts. If so, my bad. Most articles involving school bus accidents don’t mention seat belts as they do in other vehicle accidents. I’m aware newer school buses may have them. And with all the daily news articles about Narcan saves, there’s no mention of seizures and brain damage (beyond heroin itself, anyway), so it is presented as a safety net by first-responders applying it.

      • Michael Mitrow

        Most parents cannot afford one EpiPen, you’re talking about a Spare EpiPen to be left in the nurse’s office. You must be among the elite who can afford 2 EpiPens!!!

      • KaayC

        Seat belts? Really? When did they see the light? Now can they pay drivers a living wage and drug test so we dont have so many on the fringe lifestyle drivers?

  • Frank Rizzo

    This tells me that they the elites want us to live like this rather than crush heroin…..