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Jeff to Help South Jersey With Anti-Opioid Addiction Program

01/23/18

With drug overdoses continuing to rise across the country, the federal government is stepping in to coordinate a three-pronged initiative with a special focus on South Jersey. The new approach includes working with law enforcement to crack down on drug traffickers, teaching doctors and pharmacists how they can help stop prescription drug abuse, and reaching out to community organizations to educate the public.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division announced its “360 Strategy” recently, saying it’s designed to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic across the southern part of the state, which includes Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties.

According to Valerie Nickerson, special agent in charge of the DEA’s New Jersey Division, in 2016, approximately 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.

James Baird, MD, assistant medical director for the emergency department at Jefferson Health in Washington, Gloucester County, sees up close how families are torn apart by addiction.

“The substances that are on the street, what we’re seeing in our emergency departments, just at an alarming rate with no end in sight right now—we have in my small community emergency department anywhere from two overdoses a day up to 12,” Baird says. “We’ve given Narcan. We’ve given it to a 9-year-old, we’ve given it to a 91-year-old. We are pronouncing people dead on a daily basis—and we are giving Narcan to the same person over and over again.”

From witnessing these tragedies firsthand, Baird said he is looking forward to working with the DEA to better provide resources to people in need and help prevent others from being affected.