The Jersey Shore, famous for sun, fun and reality TV, now has a new and less welcome distinction. Deaths from heroin and prescription drug overdoses in Ocean County, N.J., already among the highest in the state per capita, more than doubled in 2013, and three residents have already overdosed in 2014.
In 2012, 53 people died of heroin and prescription drug overdoses in Ocean County, a boardwalked string of beach towns like Seaside Heights, home to the long-running reality series "The Jersey Shore." Ocean County had already claimed the New Jersey state title for highest number of heroin-related emergency room admissions, ahead of urban counties like Hudson and Essex with larger populations. It led the state in 2011 with 11 percent of all admissions and again in 2012 with 11.4 percent of admissions, despite having less than seven percent of the state’s people.
Last year, the county death toll from overdoses soared to 112, with the majority heroin-related, roughly ten percent of a state total of 1,188 overdose deaths. Three locals have already died in 2014. Over the weekend, two men died of heroin overdoses in Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights. Local police have issued a warning about a possibly tainted brand of heroin being sold under the name "Bud Light."
Ocean County prosecutors have even gone distributed warning cards to funeral homes so families understand the need to dispose of unused prescription medications, particularly those containing opiates, that may be left behind by the deceased. According to prosecutors, "It is our hope that these unused medications will be disposed of at the designated drop-off points so that they do not get into the hands of those who would use or sell them illegally."