On the evening of the announcement of the official cause of death of the musician Prince, New Jersey radio station NJ101.5 held a followup town hall broadcast about battling the state’s heroin epidemic.
Hosted by Eric Scott, the discussion panel featured former New Jersey governor and current Jersey City Employment and Training Program director Jim McGreevey; acting Department of Human Services commissioner Elizabeth Connolly; and Dan Regan, former addict and cofounder of the CFC Loud N Clear aftercare foundation.
Because all New Jerseyans are vulnerable to opioid addiction, the strategy for battling it must be as multi-faceted as its root causes, such as state government programs for those on both sides of the legal system and a medical solution that can block the physical dependence at the source — the brain. Equally vital is a network of psychological, emotional, and social support, as explained by special guests Jon Kilfus, a lawyer turned addict turned inmate turned JCTP volunteer, and Carolyn Krug, a drug dealer turned addict turned CRC member.
Manning the phone lines and and answering user questions on an online live chat during the broadcast were representatives of Carrier Clinic, a behavioral healthcare system, and Morris County Prevention is Key, which focuses on prevention education.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office has officially reported that the musician Prince died of an accidental overdose of the opioid Fentanyl. It’s 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
But unlike heroin, Fentanyl is legally prescribed or administered on a daily basis. “It is a very powerful pain-reducing agent,” says Dr. Steven Marcus of the New Jersey Poison Center. “It can be used orally, it can be used intravenously, it can be used in patches.”
The report didn’t specify how the Fentanyl was taken, how it was made, or if it was legally prescribed, although a criminal investigation is underway. In New Jersey, a new bill aims to align the fines and jail time for unlawfully manufacturing, distributing or dispensing Fentanyl with those for performing such activities with heroin and cocaine.
On the streets, Fentanyl has been passed off as pure heroin, and bags of heroin have been laced with the colorless, odorless opioid. And in the wrong hands, Fentanyl can kill. “If you use a gram of heroin, you may survive,” says Dr. Marcus. “A gram of Fentanyl — you’re dead.”
GET HELP WITH OPIOID ADDICTION: Resources in New Jersey