Jersey Shore's New Problem: Heroin Overdoses

Fatal overdoses more than doubled last year in Ocean County, NJ

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2014 8:17 AM CST

(Newser) – It's been a rough week for New Jersey, and an NBC News investigation only adds to the state's woes: It found that fatal heroin and prescription drug overdoses at the Jersey Shore more than doubled last year, with 112 deaths in Ocean County compared to 2012's 53 deaths; most of those were heroin deaths. Three more locals have already died this year, and police are warning that a batch of heroin sold as "Bud Light" may be tainted after tying two of this year's fatal overdoses to it, the Asbury Park Press reports. Why the surge in use? One possible reason: Heroin is getting increasingly "pure."

A spokesman for a local prosecutor's office explains that the idea of using a needle used to turn people away from heroin, but now "people are simply snorting the newer, purer product." The Jersey Shore already had one of the highest levels of fatal overdoses in the state, per capita, and in 2011 and 2012 Ocean County, which includes a lot of shore towns, saw more heroin-related emergency room visits than urban counties with higher populations. "This is no longer just an inner city issue," says the prosecutor's office spokesperson. Adds the drug expert, "It is a suburban epidemic." (More on that here.)

A detective in the Ocean County Prosecutors office sorts out packets of confiscated heroin Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013, in Toms River, NJ.
A detective in the Ocean County Prosecutors office sorts out packets of confiscated heroin Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013, in Toms River, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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