While I commend all law enforcement in what they do and in their battle against this heroin epidemic here in New Jersey, April’s first heroin bust is just a pin prick in the fight. Police report having seized 300 bricks of heroin, said to have a $120,000 street value. The heroin bust took place in Paterson, which is in Passaic County and central to Northern New Jersey.
To add some perspective, a “brick” of heroin is usually 5 bundles. A “bundle” of heroin usually leans 10 “bags” of heroin. Heroin users consumer heroin “by the bag”.
According to a vast majority of our clients at Sunrise Detox in Northern New Jersey and Toms River at the Jersey Shore, a New Jersey heroin addict seeking treatment (for whatever reason) is using 7-10 bags of heroin a day. Roughly one bundle of heroin, per day.
So 300 “bricks” is 1500 bundles, or 1500 “days” of heroin addiction. In a state with 9 million people, is this a big deal?
Yes, it is. It can take just one dose to kill a son or a daughter (or mother, or father, or teacher, or someone you loved). For an addict suffering under addiction, it takes just one more dose to stave off the effects of withdrawal, and continue the addiction instead of seeking help with heroin addiction treatment. We all know that heroin addiction doesn’t get weaker over time — heroin consumes lives, because active heroin users are driven to need increasing amounts of the drug over time.
Each bag of heroin is important. Every single one. But we have to do much, much more.
The seizure and arrests are hopefully the start if a trend here in New Jersey in this fight. Too often in the fight against drugs we are always talking in quantities of heroin and dollar values of sized drugs “kept off the street”. Rarely do we talk about the number of actual lives affected, or in this case saved by the enforcement action.
Tuesdays arrests in Paterson, if we use the math above, saved the lives of 5 individuals consuming a bundle a day for the next 300 days. Unfortunately in a state with tens of thousands of individuals addicted to heroin, the user will find another dealer, and then another. The loss of 300 bricks is not likely to impact the street price except perhaps in the short term, in Paterson, as dealers rearrange their turfs and supply chains.
Authorities broke up a drug ring over the weekend, seizing semi-automatic handguns, $20,000 in cash, and more than 300 bricks of heroin in a bust that brought down two heroin mills and saw six people arrested in Paterson, New Jersey – UPI news report
We are entering a delicate time here in New Jersey with heroin. Public awareness is being raised due to recent public figures taking active roles, which is a plus. But more needs to be done with awareness, law enforcement and treatment.
At Sunrise Detox we strongly advocate for insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment, and increased access to funds that will enable safe and comfortable detox for individuals to start their journey of healing in treatment. We know that a safe, respectful, and comfortable initial detox from heroin, is the very best start to a successful recovery.
For every brick or bundle of heroin seized and taken off the streets, we must also provide treatment for substance abuse, especially heroin addiction treatment, to help addicts get off of the drug and stay safe in recovery. Any unbalanced approach to the heroin epidemic may end up raising prices and increasing the risks associated with addiction, without saving as many lives.
Reference: 2011 East new York heroin bust reported by NJ.com