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Prosecutor: Heroin To Blame For Most Ocean County Overdoses

Heroin (file/credit: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)

Heroin (file/credit: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)

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TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Authorities in Ocean County, N.J. are working to tackle a growing heroin problem.

As WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, the relatively cheap cost of the drug may be part of the reason for its resurgence.

Officials said prescription pills go for about $20 or $25 each on the black market.

“Now you can get a hit of heroin somewhere between $3 to $5,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said.

Officials said there were 112 overdoses in Ocean County last year, mostly heroin.

Already in 2014, eight of nine overdoses in the county are heroin related, officials said. Two occurred just a day apart in January.

“Our analysis indicate that it was laced fentanyl,” Coronato told Putney. “I guess what the addicts are looking for is something that’s going to kick it up a notch.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic morphine used for cancer patients. It is more powerful than morphine itself. Authorities in New York City have been analyzing the heroin found in Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman’s home to see if it was cut with the painkiller.

Hoffman was found dead with a needle still in his arm on Sunday. Dozens of glassine envelopes containing heroin were also found in his Greenwich Village apartment, authorities confirmed.

Coronato said five heroin dealers have been charged, but noted tackling the heroin problem is about more than arrests.

“We’re out into the schools indicating that the painkillers percocet, oxycontin and vicodin, those type of pills lead to heroin,” he told Putney. “Nobody wakes up in the morning and says they’re going to do heroin. It all starts with an addiction to pills.”

Coronato said the prosecutor’s office has done forums with students and are trying to educate parents on what to look for.

Ocean County is expected to be the first in the state to have all its police officers carry a heroin antidote in an effort to save people who have overdosed.

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