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Narcan Could Reverse 250+ Bergen Drug ODs This Year, Prosecutor Says

Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal
Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

PARAMUS, N.J. -- At the current rate for 2016, police in Bergen County will administer Narcan 277 times to overdosing drug users this year -- roughly 50% more than last year, acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said Monday.

More than two dozen of those users will die, anyway, based on those figures.

Grewal released the numbers during a “Heroin Summit” at his Paramus office -- held "to discuss ways to improve coordination among public and private entities to combat the heroin epidemic" in the county, he said.

“It has become readily apparent to me in my first several months [as prosecutor] that the prescription opioid and heroin crisis is one of the most serious law enforcement and public health problems we face locally and nationally," Grewal told the gathering. "It affects young and old, rich and poor, and educated and uneducated alike.

"While this office has done a terrific job educating high school students about opioid and heroin abuse and while our Narcan program has saved numerous lives, clearly more needs to be done," he said. "We need to have a pathway to recovery for addicts and overdose victims."

Summit attendees included County Executive James Tedesco, Freeholders Tracy Zur and Thomas Sullivan, Assemblyman Joseph Lagana and representatives from the Bergen County Division of Addiction Services, Children's Aid and Family Services and local hospitals -- among them, Bergen Regional Medical Center, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, Holy Name Medical Center and the Valley Hospital.

All law enforcement agencies in the county are equipped with naloxone spray, which is sprayed into an overdosing opiad user's nostrils.

Last year, law enforcement officers in the county deployed Narcan on 187 calls. Of those, 170 victims recovered.

As of this past Friday, it was used by police 63 times in Bergen County this year -- 57 of which resulted in saves.

Grewal emphasized that the figures underrepresented the total number because they don't include deployments by paramedics and private citizens or those in hospitals.

Grewal discussed the future of the “Recovery Coach” program, for which his office provided initial funding in November 2015.

"Recovery coaches," who themselves are recovering addicts trained to counsel others, meet with Narcan reversal patients in emergency rooms and encourage them to enter into rehab.

Grewal asked the local hospitals to develop protocols to support and boost the process.

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