Friday, June 10th, 2016

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp described this week’s Community Outreach Program in Rockaway Borough about the county’s opiate and heroin epidemic as “productive and educational.”

Opiate and heroin forum in Rockaway Borough

Opiate and heroin forum in Rockaway Borough

The event was a joint effort by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Rockaway Borough Police Department to provide information to the community.  Held at the Morris Hills High School, the audience consisting of many concerned residents and persons affected by the epidemic.

Rockaway Borough Police Chief Doug Scheer opened the event with remarks about how his community has been negatively impacted by the increased use of opiates and heroin.

Prosecutor Knapp said his office is aggressively pursuing “for-profit” distributers of opiates and heroin with “vigorous prosecution and incarceration.” But he also believes addiction is a disease that afflicts many people and is a proponent of intervention and treatment for the nonviolent drug addicted user, rather than incarceration.

He also discussed the use of Narcan, which is now supplied to first responders, as a life saving measure for use on those who overdose and  face imminent death.  Narcan reverses the effect of the overdose on the body. Since its implementation in Morris County in 2015, 44 lives have been saved by police officers.  Unfortunately, during that same year, 43 people lost their lives due to opiate overdoses.

Prosecutor 2Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury, who is in charge of the “Special Operations Division”, which focuses on illegal drug trafficking, explained that physical injury can lead to the initial use of legally prescribed pain killers, which are commonly opiate-based.  Depending on the individual and the duration of the medicinal use, addiction may occur, he said.

When the legally prescribed medication is exhausted, the person may move on to illegally-sold opioid-based prescription medication that can be very expensive to obtain.  Often-times, heroin use will follow because of its cheap price and availability.

Due to the debilitating effects, opiate addicts will often lose their employment and resort to crime to “feed” their habit, said Seabury, who has been prosecuting narcotics cases for ten years.

Also participating in this week’s event were other drug addiction intervention and recovery organizations, including representatives from “CARESNJ” and “Morris County Prevention is Key.”

Prosecutor Fredric Knapp urges everyone to discard old or unused medication in one of the many drop boxes located throughout Morris County.  For a list of locations, please log on to http://safehealthymorris.org/dropbox/.  Due to environmental concerns, please avoid flushing medications in the toilet or discarding them in the regular garbage.