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Prosecutor: Heroin Use An Epidemic In Monmouth

Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni delivers sobering message at Manasquan High School Tuesday.

Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

UPDATE: A slightly shortened version of the presentation given by Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni at Manasquan High School Tuesday is attached to this story.

Heroin use is has reached epidemic proportions. Its abuse is not just an urban problem that happens somewhere else, or to someone else.

Those were some of the sobering messages delivered to parents at Manasquan High School’s “Back To School” night in a short presentation by Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

The presentation was the first that Gramiccioni has made to parents of high school aged children this year. Talks are in the works with other county high schools and a version is being tailored to the students themselves, he said.

But Gramiccioni said the message was important to get out to parents, in part to debunk widely held myths that heroin use is some other worldly thing that happens on television or in urban areas, and in part to arm parents with cold hard facts about the proliferation and danger the drug poses in Monmouth County.

“It is enslaving our kids,’’ Gramiccioni said. “There’s no two ways about it.’’

The presentation was stark:

· There have been 10 homicides in Monmouth County so far this year, but 37 have died from heroin overdose.

· In the Freehold Regional High School District area, 721 people - students and non-students -- have sought professional help for heroin addiction along with 164 in the various sending districts that make up Manasquan High School.

· 80 percent of people begin using heroin with friends, but 80 percent of addicts who overdose are found alone.

“This is why we need to change the conversation,’’ Gramiccioni said.

The purity of today’s heroin makes it a more dangerous drug than it was 20 years ago. Purity levels of the available heroin in New Jersey are nearly double the national average, with area heroin sometimes reaching purity in excess of 90 percent.

That’s compared to the heroin of 20 years ago that had purity levels in the single digits, Gramiccioni said.

“This isn’t the same heroin that you might have heard about when you were growing up 20-25 years ago,” Gramiccioni said.

But the presentation wasn’t all fire and brimstone.

Of those kids in a recent study who stayed drug free, most said they did so because they did not want to disappoint their parents, Gramiccioni said. 

“That’s a strong message to us as parents about talking to your kids,” Gramiccioni said. “Please communicate with your children.’’

jamie i September 18, 2013 at 10:45 AM
Instead of restating the obvious, were any solutions offered to this curtail this epidemic? We are loosing our youth, as young as elementary school! Time to take action and stop the insanity!
Terrie J. September 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM
This article doesn't say anything about whether heroin use is a problem among the young. It cleverly mentions how many "students and non-students" (i.e. all human beings) sought help for addiction, and misleadingly segments this information by school districts to make it seem like we're talking about kids; but as far as I'm concerned, every one of those people could be 65 year old homeless transients or ex-cons. No information is given but it's phrased cleverly to make it seem like this involves students without actually saying so. Also, there have been 37 heroin overdoses; were any of them people under 21? Of course heroin use is terrible and may start when a kid is very young; of course young people need to know the dangers. But this strikes me as a very scaremongering speech that, according to this article, offered no evidence of a heroin epidemic "enslaving our kids." If there was any such evidence, wouldn't he have offered it? For example, by clearly stating how many high-school aged kids have been treated, or arrested, or physically harmed? Or an estimate of how widespread the problem might be among young people?
Erin Salica September 18, 2013 at 08:59 PM
First off please slow down the presentation in order to educate teens and adults alike! My smart, talented, good hearted sister died 10 years ago from a heroin overdose. She made a dumb decision as a young teen bc she didn't have the parental love and guidance every kid deserves. Www.inkyndallsname.org. Education is key, even if you think your kid would not be influenced by peers, or make a dumb split second decision that will end their lives. No more deaths!!!!!
Melinda Murray September 19, 2013 at 12:11 AM
I agree more info. should be in this piece. This being said the big H is enslaving our youth. Just walk the plaza in brick look at the young people pinned eyes, sitting around nodding out. Drive through any of our apartment cmplexes from evening on. Working nights? Look around on rt 70 as young people are stummbling down the road. Look at the increased theft in the area. Look at the lack of arrests for thefts and being under the influence in public. Call Brick PD when you see dealing going on outside your apartment {as I have sat at a friends and have seen it first hand} and wait 30 min. to an hour for them to show uo. Guess what? Deals are done by then and they have stummbled on!!
Gloria Celentano October 14, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Terrie...are you reading the obituaries?? We are losing our youth, not homeless transients, ex-cons like you see on tv. These are our children, college students, high school kids from all backgrounds - your neighbors. People are in denial if you think the prosecutor is exaggerating!


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