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Ocean County Not Alone in Battling Heroin Epidemic

Hunterdon County law enforcement agencies will also begin carrying the antidote early next year, and it's under consideration in both Cape May and Camden counties.

The epidemic of deaths as the result of heroin overdoses reaches beyond the borders of Ocean County, and law enforcement agencies in three other counties are at least considering carrying an antidote that will help reverse the impact of an overdose.

Patch previously reported that all 33 police agencies in the county will begin carrying the inhalant form of Narcan, the brand name of naloxon early next year.

According to nj.com, law enforcement agencies in Hunterdon County will also begin carrying the antidote early next year, while the possibility is under consideration in Cape May and Camden counties.

Previously only hospital staff was permitted to administer the antidote.

However, the Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act made it legal for police officers to start carrying the drug. Legislators passed the act earlier this year.

The act doesn't limit possession and administration of the antidote to police officers. It provides immunity for witnesses and drug overdose victims, and allows both healthcare professionals or pharmacists and non-healthcare professionals to dispense the antidote in emergency situations.

The average amount of time it would take a hospital employee to administer the antidote is 15 minutes, while police can administer within two to four minutes and family and friends who possess the antidote can administer it immediately, according to nj.com.

While Ocean County police officers are set to begin carrying Narcan in February, Camden County Police Chief Scott Thompson told nj.com he will take a very close look at using the antidote next year.

If the antidote is approved throughout the county, officials in Camden would become the first in a major city to carry the antidote, according to nj.com.

Earlier this year, Camden County officials were concerned with a rash of overdoses and the possibility of a dangerously potent strain of heroin being sold in Camden, according to CBS Philadelphia.

Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor will begin discussions with local law enforcement agencies about carrying the antidote, and Hunterdon County officials will begin carrying it next year, according to nj.com.

In Cape May County, heroin was being cut with a particularly powerful narcotic called fentanyl, according to Shore News Today.

Hunterdon County has seen over 20 heroin overdoses since the beginning of 2012, but authorities believe there may have been even more that were never reported to police, according to lehighvalleylive.com.

Ocean County has seen over 100 deaths as the result of heroin overdoses this year.


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