Heroin and opioid overdoses continue to rise across the country and across this state, including in Bergen County. In 2016, we saw 308 reported overdoses, which represented a 6.9% increase from 2015. This increase is attributable to both an overall rise in the number of individuals abusing heroin and opioids and to an increase in the potency of the heroin being sold in this state, which is often mixed or substituted with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Despite the increase in reported overdoses, however, the total number of fatal overdoses in Bergen County in both 2015 and 2016 remained constant at 87 overdose fatalities each year. This is due to the increase in successful deployments of Naloxone or “Narcan,” the overdose reversal drug, in 2016. To combat this growing epidemic, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (“BCPO”) implemented a three-prong approach in 2016, which we hope to build on this year. This approach focuses on innovative criminal enforcement, treatment options for addicts, and educational programming to prevent individuals from becoming addicted to opioids and heroin.
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