By John Burton
RUMSON — “It is an epidemic,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said about heroin use in the county while talking to an overflowing audience at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Monday night.
“This hits close to home and it doesn’t discriminate,” he told the crowd of parents, students and staff from a number of area schools.
The purpose of the evening was to “shock and awe” kids and parents alike, by offering some startling statistics of what his office has been addressing and what families are seeing with this drug and its use, the prosecutor said.
So far Monmouth County has seen a total of 37 deaths caused by heroin use in 2013. (In comparison there were 13 homicides in the county and 51 other drug-related deaths up to this point this year.)
“We’re heading for more than 50,” for the year with the largest group being those under 26 years old, Gramiccioni said. Monmouth County is second only to Essex County in the number of its residents who are entering drug-related treatment facilities – with 41 percent of patients admitted for heroin addiction.
New Jersey is seeing the highest purity levels of the drug being sold anywhere in the world because the state’s location between the two major importation spots – New York and Philadelphia, Gramiccioni noted.
“It’s staggering what we see,” the prosecutor said.
It will take the concerted effort to address the problem. “The idea that it can’t happen to our kids, we have to throw that out the window,” he said.
Rumson parent Denise Russo, who has three children in Rumson-Fair Haven High School, said she attended because she “needed to learn more about it, to get more education.” The statistics were “disturbing,” she said.
Gramiccioni said he plans on continuing conducting public outreach in as many schools as possible in the coming year to let kids and families know what is going on and what can be done.
See a full report in the Nov. 22 edition of The Two River Times.