Recognition and Thanks to Prosecutor Anthony Kearns

Our One Voice steering committee recently recognized and thanked Prosecutor Anthony Kearns for his role in creating and leading One Voice. This was his last official meeting before he leaves office in April. One Voice will be forever grateful for the Prosecutors dedication to our organization over the years, and we wish him the best of luck as he takes on his new role with the Diocese of Metuchen!

group shot.jpg
Tony photo 3.jpg

Dangers of Heroin

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from opium poppy plants. It is a “downer” or depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain. It is classified as a Schedule I drug by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).

What does Heroin look like?

A white to dark brown powder or a tar-like substance.

How is Heroin used?

Heroin can be injected into a vein (“mainlining”), injected into a muscle, placed on tinfoil and inhaled as smoke through a straw or snorted as powder via the nose.

What are the short term effects of Heroin?

After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects include vomiting and constipation.

What are the long term effects of Heroin?

Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, constipation and gastrointestinal cramping, and liver or kidney disease. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not really dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

Prescription Opioid Abuse: A First Step to Heroin Use?

Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin. Some individuals reported taking up heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids

Heroin In Hunterdon and Warren

  • Heroin abuse among teens is on the rise in Hunterdon County. Teens begin misusing pills which leads to Heroin abuse.

  • Hunterdon County Police Officers are now equipped with the drug Narcan, an antidote for heroin and other opiates. Narcan helps saves lives for those who are experiencing an opiate overdose.

  • In 2015, 40 Heroin overdoses were reported by law enforcement in Hunterdon County, as compared to 12 in 2014. This represents a 333% increase in just one year.

  • So far in 2016, 32 drug overdoses have been reported to law enforcement, 30 of which are Heroin / Opiate related. Of these overdoses, there were 17 Narcan saves and 10 fatalities. The individuals experiencing these drug overdoses ranged in age from 20 to 54.

  • Warren County had 279 drug arrests in 2015. This would be equivalent to one-fourth (1/4) of all Warren County kindergarten children.

  • In 2015, Warren County reported 25 drug overdoses: 12 fatal and 13 non-fatal.

  • There were 91 Narcan administrations in Warren County in 2015 (which is equivalent to half of the student body for seven Warren County schools).

What to watch out for:

There is no cookie cutter heroin user. Adults between the ages of 18-25 years old are the heaviest users of heroin and other opiates, but heroin knows no age. People aged from 12 years to older than 26 years old are victims of heroin addiction; they also come from middle- or upper-middle-class suburban families.

People use heroin because it comes in various forms which are easier to consume and it is affordable and cheap.

Visible Symptoms:Shortness of breath, dry mouth, small pupils, sudden changes in behavior, disorientation, cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off, droopy appearance (as if arms and legs are heavy).

Household/Community Behaviors:Crimes against family and friends such as items of value missing (jewelry or
electronic devices), unusual wording or codes used in social media or on cell phones, lack of motivation or memory,
substantial increases in sleeping.

Heroin Facts Launch Materials

The following information can be disseminated in a manner that you feel is most appropriate for your congregation. Suggested methods may be as part of your sermon, presented by a guest speaker, included in your service’s announcements, inserted in your bulletin, etc … or a combination of these suggested methods. The information can also be provided in your bulletins, emails, websites, etc. throughout the month of October, with your congregation encouraged to participate in the discussion of the identified topic. This information can be provided to you electronically upon request.

All information will be posted online; your congregation can visit the Safe Communities Coalition website and select the One Voice tab for additional information and resources

Heroin Facts

  • Heroin is a powerful illegal drug made from morphine (a form of opiate). It affects the same region of the brain as opioid pain medication. Opioids relieve pain by reducing the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affecting those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. *

  • Many in recovery state they became addicted to pain meds (opioids) and then moved to heroin because it was much cheaper and easier to get.

  • While the United States represents 5% of the world population, we consume 80% of the world supply of prescription opioid pain medicine and 99% of Vicodin (Hydrocodone).

  • 80% of heroin users reported using prescription opiates prior to using heroin. However; heroin users tend to be frequent users of multiplesubstances (e.g. marijuana, cocaine, alcohol). *

  • Opioid pain medication like OxyContin and Vicodin used to be prescribed for end-of-life patients or a couple of days after major surgery; however due to many factors including societal expectations of living ‘pain free’, they are now prescribed for more routine procedures.

  • The pain associated with minor surgeries like wisdom teeth extraction or appendectomy has not changed; however, the strength of the pain medications that are being prescribed have dramatically increased.

  • Hunterdon County had 40 Heroin overdoses reported by law enforcement in 2015, as compared to 12 in 2014. This represents a 333% increase in just one year. In 2016, 32 have been reported to law enforcement, 30 Heroin Opiate related.

(*) – NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015)

What is being done in our community?

  • There are now 10 permanent Rx drop off boxes in Hunterdon County. These boxes have been installed so that residents can dispose of expired or unused medications, eliminating the availability of drugs and increasing the safety of their home and community.

  • Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon/Somerset created an educational documentary called From Pills to Heroin, a 13-minute film that educates the community. The film is available by visiting

  • DEA National Rx Take Back Day is held twice a year. Upcoming is October 22, 2016 from 10:00am – 2:00pm. For information:

  • START packages (Steps to Action, Recovery and Treatment) – Package with resources for people who are in the critical window of time between release from treatment or incarceration to get the help to prevent relapse. Distributed by Safe Communities Coalition, in partnership with the Prosecutor’s Office, Hunterdon Health Care, and the Hunterdon County Chiefs of Police Association.

  • Hunterdon Medical Center Emergency Department dispenses short term prescriptions only for opiates when indicated for acute pain. (no more than 2-3 days worth of medication to hold patient over until they are seen by a specialist or PCP).

  • Narcan Administrations – Narcan (Naloxone) blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication. Naloxone is used to treat a heroin or opioid overdose in an emergency situation.

  • Hunterdon County Recovery Support Center – This is a place where anyone in recovery can come feel safe and be supported in sober living with others in recovery. Located at the Family Success Center in Flemington, which is managed by Hunterdon Prevention Resources.

  • Prevention Education in schools – Agencies such as Hunterdon Prevention Resources provide prevention education for K-12 in the Hunterdon County schools.

  • NJ PMP (Prescription Monitoring Program) – is a statewide database that collects prescription data dispensed in outpatient settings in New Jersey, and by out-of-state pharmacies dispensing into New Jersey. The NJ PMP enables prescribers and pharmacists to obtain accurate information on patients’ prescription history, from an online database that pharmacies update at least twice per month.The information reported to and made available through the NJ PMP will help detect individuals who may be “doctor shopping”.


  • Faith: personal prayer, seek out faith leaders, support groups within places of worship.

  • Coping Skills: classes such as Strengthening Families, Unifying Families, Stress Reduction, Life Skills, etc. – gain coping and communication skills to manage life’s stressors.

  • Counseling: Student Assistance Counselors at schools (SACS). Visit NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services:

  • There are no ‘safe’ substances for coping. Recognize the use of gateway drugs such as alcohol or marijuana for coping before a person moves on to heroin/Rx.

  • Reduce Stigma of Addiction: Addiction does not discriminate. We need to come together as communities do in times of crisis (e.g. Hurricane Sandy).

  • The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) set out to enlist the help of one key player in the fight against opiate abuse – PARENTS. PDFNJ is addressing this issue with “Before They Prescribe – You Decide™” campaign. This campaign is geared at educating parents on the link between prescribed prescription pain medicine and heroin abuse and encouraging and empowering them to speak to their doctor or dentist about the potential addictive qualities of pain medicine prescribed, as well as possible alternatives to opioids that are appropriate.

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings.

  • Recognize Warning Signs of Heroin/Opiate addiction.

Click here to view this article as a PDF document.

Opiate Overdose Signs and Symptoms

Opioid Overdose is an acute condition due to the excessive use of narcotics.

Signs and Symptoms to look for:

  • Decreased level of consciousness and pinpoint pupils.

  • Heart rate and breathing slow down sometimes to a stop

  • Blue lips and nails are caused by insufficient oxygen in the blood

  • Seizures

  • Muscle spasms

A person experiencing an opiate overdose usually will not wake up even if their name is called or if they are shaken vigorously.

More Americans die from prescription drug abuse and misuse than cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin combined. (drugfreeworld)

The 911/OPA Law provides amnesty to victim and those who seek help during an overdose from arrest, charge, and prosecution.

Narcan (Naloxone)

What is it?

Narcan is an opioid antagonist drug that is used as an antidote to treat respiratory depression caused by an overdose of natural or synthetic opioids such as oxycodone, heroin, codeine, fentanyl, methadone, etc. According to the Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation, each year prescription opioid overdose takes the lives of over 16,000 people. Narcan is an essential tool in preventing these deaths and it affects the family, friends, and community of the people it saves.

How does it work?

Narcan removes the opioid from its receptor in the case of an overdose. It is given as an intramuscular injection or intranasal mist. The effects of the drug start within 5 minutes but only last for 30 to 90 minutes. Some long acting opioids such as methadone and OxyContin require more doses of Narcan because their effects can last after the initial Narcan dose wears off.

How to access

  • The Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act of 2013 allowed the development of free training programs that would allow bystanders to administer Narcan in the event of an opioid overdose

  • It can also be prescribed by doctors. The act protects prescribers and individuals who administer Narcan from criminal and civil liability in the event that they use the drug to help someone who is overdosing.

  • 3,876 lives have already been saved in New Jersey from Narcan

Opioid Overdose Prevention Program free trainings:

  • The Overdose Protection Agency Coorporation (TOPAC), 1540 Kuser Rd, Suite A-2, Hamilton, NJ 08619, 609-581-0600

  • JSAS Health Care, 685 Neptune Blvd., Suite 101, Neptune, NJ 07753, 732-988-8877

  • Ocean Mental Health Services, 160 Route 9, Bayville, NJ 08721

  • Daytop Ocean County Outpatient Program, 399 Main Street, Manahawkin, NJ 08050

  • Urban Treatment Associates, 808 Market St., Camden, NJ 08101, 856-225-0505

Additional Information