GALLOWAY, NJ (WTXF) - Another day in the heart of the heroin epidemic. Today? Atlantic County – starting in Atlantic City – where FOX 29's Hank Flynn met Jamie Sewell who had his first scrape with heroin looking through a keyhole.
Jamie’s been clean for fifteen months. He’s enrolled in a local methadone program and going to all the NA meetings he can. Jamie says he was just lucky because he qualified for rehab program money due to a preexisting condition.
"And other people don’t have it. That want to get help. But they can’t get it. They can’t get it because they don’t have enough money and they only got Medicaid," he explained.
That was one issue among many being discussed a couple miles away in Galloway at Stockton University at the Knock Out Opioids Town Hall. Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner says you can use the law to crack down all you like but, "We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. In my opinion, maybe some others disagree. We’ve tried that before . For too many times and for too many years. And we have too many lives to show for it that it didn’t work."
The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey says that 4 out of 5 new heroin users abused prescription pain killers before turning to heroin. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says prescriptions for painkilling opioids have skyrocketed 250% since the early‘90's. So why the increase? Erik Fischetti works with addicts.
"It’s pretty obvious. It’s the money. And that money is never going to stop pouring in because people like to kill pain," he said.
That makes sense --money’s at the root of a lot of things. And getting those prescription opioids? People tell FOX 29's Hank Flynn it’s a piece of cake even for a recovering addict.
Heroin is fifty problems rolled into one – we know that. But when prescription opioid addicts turn into heroin addicts and doctors are prescribing those prescription painkillers like there’s no tomorrow – you’ve got to wonder why. Must be the money – there’ll be more to come. I’m Hank – and that’s my take.