About the Blue Hart (formerly HAARP) Program in South Jersey

Here's a good intro to the Blue Hart program (formerly “Heroin Addiction Response Program”) developing out of a coalition of Ocean County Prosecutor, two police chiefs, and several treatment industry representatives including Sunrise Detox.

I'll provide further updates in the near future, and add some of my own insights into how this fits into the treatment ecosystem here in New Jersey.

Fentanyl Danger on Long Island

fentanyl is killing people on Long IslandLong Island Plagued by Fentanyl Deaths

Fentanyl is a very powerful drug, normally only used in terminal cases of severe pain, where the patient is expected to die and needs pain relief. These days fentanyl is a regular news topic. It's killing people.

Long Island has set a new record of 220 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2016 alone.

Back in 2014 we highlighted the emerging danger of fentanyl-laced street drugs, as “mass overdoses” started to appear in Pennsylvania and in Nassau County, on Long Island. Someone was mixing fentanyl into street heroin, and people were dying.

By summer of 2015 it was clear this was not a new twist, but a trend. Fake oxycontin pills were showing up containing significant doses of fentanyl. Someone was purposefully manufacturing fentanyl for distribution into the street heroin trade, and users were unaware of the dangers brought with fentanyl.

Soon synthetic carfentanyl, far more powerful than even fentanyl, was found on the market. Where fentanyl is reported to be 100 times more powerful than morphine, carfentanyl was rated at 100x as powerful as fentanyl. Of course, still more people are dying, as these drugs are so overpowering.

When Drug Use leads to Overdose

In large doses, opiates, opioids, and synthetics like carfentanyl suppress the respiratory system. Someone overdosing on these drugs will literally suffocate to death. They shoot up to get high, fall unconscious or asleep, and then suffocate to death. The drug literally shuts down their breathing.

Overdose and Unexpecting Overdose results in Death

Why do so many drug users die from these powerful drugs? One reason is uncontrolled dosage. Your drug dealer may not even know herself what is in the heroin being sold. Dose is altered for profit, over and over, and may even be increased if certain drugs are added by any of the many middlemen, along the way to a sale.

A second reason I see too often these days is the unexpected overdose. Someone coming back to using heroin after a pause may not tolerate the same dose they used to tolerate without any problems. I will write more about this later.

When You're Ready to Stop, Get Help

Not everyone wants to stop taking drugs. Not everyone addicted to heroin wants to stop. We know that. But after helping over 45,000 people detox from their addictions, we know almost everyone regrets letting it get as far as it did before they sought help.

The first step is a medical detox from the active drugs influencing your decision-making. Call us, schedule a time to come in, and we will help with everything else. In a few days to a week or so, our experienced medical team eliminates the drugs from your system, managing the withdrawal and discomfort as needed, and then weaning you off the meds. It's the first step to regaining control, so you can stay safe.

If you call Sunrise Detox you tap into a network of professionals who understand where you are, where you've been, and where you are headed. Each detox center is designed specifically for detox off drugs and alcohol, preparing you for whatever rehab or outpatient aftercare is appropriate.

When you're ready, call us 888-443-3869 and we will immediately start helping you.

If you want, tell them Joe sent you. I'll get the word, and I'm part of the team that will be pulling for you.


Now Playing : Deadly in Small Doses

Fentanyl pills made to look like difficult to buy 80mg Oxycontin pills. These were confiscated by police in a 2015 drug bust.

Fentanyl pills made to look like difficult-to-buy 80mg Oxycontin pills. These were confiscated by police in a 2015 drug bust.

We are used to hearing the phrase “deadly in high doses”. Many drugs can be deadly in high doses. Now we are seeing something new : deadly in SMALL doses.

The powerful drug fentanyl, another man-made opioid like oxycontin (oxycodone) and hydrocodone, is showing up on the streets. It is pressed into pills similar to oxycodone, colored to look like common painkillers, and of course mixed into street drugs like heroin. Fentanyl is deadly in small doses. Even a small amount of the powder can kill even an experience opioid or heroin user accustomed to high doses of opiates/painkillers.

Dangerous mixtures of drugs like fentanyl are killing quickly in New Jersey these days. Last year New Jersey suffered sudden deaths from Newark to Cape May, as drug dealers experimented with poly drug formulas they then sold as heroin, or marketed as a replacement for increasingly expensive pain pills.

Prescription painkillers are commonly abused these days, which can lead to addiction. Even regular folks who never used drugs recreationally are finding themselves “dependent” on these opioids. Many are coming into detox centers in NJ reporting that a few pills per day became several and then 7 or 8 per day, before they ran out of supply and realized they had a dependency problem.

Opioids don't want to let you go. If you become dependent, and try to stop, your body will urge you to continue taking the drugs. The withdrawal sickness that comes after stopping the drug is often enough to make one return to the drug, just to not-feel-sick. With high doses, the withdrawal sickness can be so severe that injecting heroin doesn't seem like such a bad idea – if it makes the sickness go away.

That's how heroin addiction works these days. And New Jersey now has a heroin epidemic on its hands.

Medical Detox is the first step in addressing a painkiller addiction. The medical detox process manages the withdrawal sickness for you, while the rest of the detox process supports someone getting clear of the drugs and into the proper path for recovering from the addiction. Addiction wreaks havoc with family, personal, and professional lives. Addicts need help.

In a top-tier medical detox facility like Sunrise Detox Toms River, Sunrise Detox Cherry Hill, or Sunrise Detox Stirling/Long Hill, the “Detox with Dignity” program focuses on eliminating the influence of the drug and withdrawal sickness, while providing concierge-like customer service, and a comfortable and supportive environment with around-the-clock medical care certified addiction counselors at every step of the way.

The best way to start is with a Detox with Dignity, where counselors help customize an individualized treatment plan which can include rehab, counseling, local outpatient treatment, with medical and psychological support as appropriate.

Opening Camden County Drug Treatment Center ASAP

heroin deaths Camden County, NJ

The Camden County regional heroin addiction reatment center will open ASAP, as Camden County leads the State for heroin overdose deaths. New Jersey is now experiencing 3 TIMES the national rate for heroin overdose deaths.

Cherry Hill Detox Center : Open House Next Week!

Sunrise Detox is opening in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to help serve the growing demand for heroin addiction treatment services in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The timing is helpful, as today the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released data showing that Americans are increasingly choosing to engage with heroin, and the dangerous, addicting drug is taking a serious toll : death  rates from heroin overdose have increased 4 fold over the past ten years.

As noted on the Cherry Hill Detox blog, an even more alarming statistic is the relative number for the State of New Jersey : 3 times HIGHER than the national average!

The Cherry Hill Open House and Networking Event is July 15 at the new Cherry Hill detox center. Please RSVP.

Camden County among the Hardest Hit

Camden County, situated between the Pine Lands and the Delaware River/City of Philadelphia, is aligned with a major traffic corridor between Philadelphia and the southern Jersey Shore. Cherry Hill is itself a transportation corridor for Northern New Jersey and the northestern US to the west. Close to the central government districts in Trenton, and convenient to both the Jersey Shore and urban cultural areas, Camden County is home to professionals, suburban families, and the full spectrum of New Jersey residents.

Heroin Addiction following Pain Pill Abuse

Heroin is an opiate, very similar to the prescription pain killers (Percocet, Vicodin) found in almost every medicine cabinet in America. The synthetic pharmaceutical versions may be derived from the same natural sources as heroin (known as opiates) or created as manufactured molecules with similar chemical structure, causing almost identical effects (opioids).For dependent users of these drugs, there is little difference between clean heroin and prescription pain killers.

Unfortunately, there is very little “clean” heroin. Virtually all street heroin is tainted with other chemicals, and very often those chemicals are dangerous and often deadly. Even if there was a “clean” heroin, however, the addiction process does not stop and rarely slows down. Opiate abuse leads to more opiate abuse almost always, with no end in sight. The only way for an addict to avoid painful and possible deadly sickness, is to keep using, and to kep using more.

In many cases, prescription drugs are optimal combinations of opiates and opioids, designed specifically to impact the brain the same way heroin does – by activating a reward cycle that encourages addiction, and leading to a physical dependency which deters quitting. If a heroin user stops using, they start to feel sick. The more advanced the addiction, the stronger that sickness will be, moving from discomfort like and queasyness to including paranoia and serious mental disorders.

Heroin addiction, as America is learning, is more than irresponsible recreational drug use out of control. Today's heroin addiction is advanced prescription drug addiction, which is now out of control for many, many people.

Heroin Addiction Treatment vs Substance Abuse Treatment

Heroin addiction must be treated the way other drug addictions are treated – individually. Each person has a unique set of physical, emotional, mental, and social conditions supporting an addiction disorder. While the chemicals abused may be the same, the circumstances surrounding any given addiction are unique. There is no single “solution” to drug addiction, but instead there is a process of rehabilitation and recovery which leads to a hopeful life worth living, without addicting substances.

That rehab process always starts with a medical detox, which can last from 3 to 10 or more days, depending on physical and mental status, chemical dependency, and history of drug use. During detox the medical and professional staff prevent and manage the sickness that would come from withdrawal and the co-ocurring mental, physical, and emotional issues that may be unmasked as the substances are cleared from the body. They provide a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment that is technically designed specifically to support the detox process, and encourage recovery. The detox experts beging the process of educating, training, and supporting each individual as needed, while securing appropriate medical or psychological support as needed, and help the guest find an appropriate rehab for after care.

Sunrise Detox will even help make sure every guest gets to that rehab, following successful detox.

Ocean County DART Coalition Event May 27

Tonight is the Ocean County DART Coalition Forum “Can We Talk – Are You Listening?” at the Pine Belt Arena from 5pm to 9pm. The event is being organized by Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, and will focus on the heroin epidemic that is sweeping through New Jersey's communities.

I will be there, along with Ryan Singer from Sunrise Detox Toms River, to answer questions and do everything we can to help support the mission of raising awareness of the heroin problem. Some of what we do in person, that might not be well known:

Answer specific questions about specific situations, such as loved ones with dependencies, concerns about past treatment efforts that didn't work well, state-of-the-art detox and rehab for addiction, family issues when dealing with addiction in the home, etc.
Discuss the nuances of insurance coverage for substance abuse, including real-world facts that are not in the insurance company brochure, or not common knowledge.
Provide direct, honest, informative talks about substance abuse, addiction and treatment, beyond what is normally published or mentioned in public discussions.

Here are a few snapshots of the stage being prepped for tonight's show, which will feature Richie Sambora (guitarist for Bon Jovi). It should be a fun night out with community, addressing an issue that needs as much attention as it can get these days. Sunrise Detox is a proud sponsor and participant.

Sound checks on the stage

Sound checks on the stage while preparing for tonight's DART Coalition Forum on Heroin Addiction in New Jersey


Sunrise Detox is a proud supporter of the DART Coalition and Prosecutor Joseph Coronato's efforts to raise awareness of substance abuse and addiction in New Jersey


Hard Work Pays Off: Raising Heroin Awareness in NJ

I had the honor or releasing the symbolic balloons to kick off the campaign

I had the honor or releasing 244 symbolic balloons in memory of those who died of heroin overdose in  Ocean and Monmouth counties last year, and the Daily Journal covered it.

Often times the one big message of successful recovery is “hard work pays off”. This week, and this month, and this year, that hard work has been raising awareness of the heroin epidemic in New Jersey, to prevent as much of the fallout from addiction as we can right now.

And the hard work is paying off. The stigma of heroin is starting to go away. Although there is a long way still to go, it is no longer uncommon to hear the word “heroin” in conversation  in our suburbs.

I am seeing an increased awareness of the role of prescription pain killers in our heroin epidemic as well. The “common man” in New Jersey is starting to understand that heroin is just a cheaper, more physically dangerous form of the prescription pain killers prescribed by doctors or “borrowed” from unsuspecting friends and relatives.

Treatment is Available for Opiate Addiction

The time to get treatment for addiction is when a dependency is acknowledged. If that dependency is on prescription pain killers like hydrocodone or oxycodone, Percocet, or any number of other opioids, it is no less a risk than a heroin addiction. The primary risk appears to be the switch to heroin (which is  cheaper, and more readily available). But the other, perhaps more important risk, is the tightening grip of opiate addiction.

Heroin Addiction is best Treated Early, not Late

It is easier and less “costly” in all terms, to treat an addiction earlier, rather than later, regardless of the substance.

“Stigma can be deadly. We hope that this campaign plays a role in busting that stigma and helping the public understand that addiction is a disease.” Celina Gray, Acting Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction quoted in the Daily Journal.

This past week Jersey Shore Radio's 107.1 FM Morning Show dedicated virtually an entire week to raising awareness of the heroin problem in New Jersey. Sunrise Detox spent as much time on-site with them as we could. We knew that those seeking help would need someone to talk to. Someone who could answer the real-world questions about addiction and addiction treatment. And since we do that every day, we wanted to help.

Sunrise Detox in New Jersey Malls

We helped people one-on-one at all three malls, every day of the campaign. We spoke honestly about addiction and the grip it has on otherwise smart and strong individuals. We spoke honestly about treatment, insurance, and the untold “costs” of addiction on society. And we told real-world stories that brought the message home to those who needed to hear them.

In some cases we got people directly into treatment. Sometimes at Sunrise Detox, and other times at other treatment centers. The key to successful treatment is immediate medical attention (such as at our medical detox), followed by admission to the appropriate inpatient rehab center, which is usually selected based on individual factors. At Sunrise Detox, we work with individuals and families during the initial detox stage, to understand the rehab process, and select the one that fits.

Keeping Up the Fight: More Heroin Awareness is Needed

This week New Jersey's administration (the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction) kicks off another awareness campaign – this time one funded with marketing and advertising dollars, and expected to carry through the entire summer. “Addiction does not discriminate” is a strong message that needs to be heard. Let's raise awareness amongst those who believe that heroin addiction happens to other people, before that devastating addiction pops into their lives unexpectedly, and challenges the entire family unit and more.




10% of America’s Heroin Addicts Live in New Jersey

According to Radio 107.1 FM, 10% of the nation's heroin addicts live in New Jersey.

This week, I'm helping Radio 107.1 FM to raise awareness about the heroin epidemic that is ravaging our local communities. It's a serious problem; according to on-air statistics, 10% of all heroin addicts nationwide live in New Jersey.  Last year, more people died from heroin overdose than from vehicular DWI accidents, and addicts are as young as 10 years old.

3 Malls with Experts On-Hand to Help

On May 19th through May 23rd, from 7am until 10pm, Sunrise Detox staff will be at all three locations covered by this event. Joe Horrocks will be on-hand at Freehold Raceway Mall, Ryan Singer will be at Ocean County Mall, and I will be supporting our efforts from Monmouth Mall. Each of us are on-site answering questions and working with clinicians to try and help people to get into treatment immediately.

Ocean County deaths doubled from 2012 to 2013.

We've set up a call center specifically for this event to help raise awareness about New Jersey's heroin problem; if you or someone you know needs help, they can call us at (877)759-9757.

Raising Awareness of a Growing Problem

Statistics prove that the problem of heroin addiction in our state is quite severe. Since 2006, heroin use in New Jersey has tripled. The number of opiate overdose deaths jumped about 33% from 2011 to 2012. In Ocean County, which includes parts of the Jersey Shore, heroin deaths more than doubled between 2012 and 2013. These staggering numbers underscore a critical reality; that many of our fellow citizens desperately need help.

Real Help, Right Now

After just 2 days, we are seeing results. Parents, siblings, and neighbors have come down and voiced their concern and desire to help people they know, or loved ones who have problems with substance abuse or are in treatment, or recovery. Some have come down to admit they need help, and told us stories of their friends overdosing and in some cases dying in their presence. We've already helped a few people get into treatment immediately – in one case literally going from the mall directly to a treatment center.

Get Help and Advice, Right Now

Come on down to Ocean County Mall, Freehold Raceway Mall, or the Monmouth Mall and meet our professionals, counselors, admissions experts, and others who have come to provide help and assistance. Ask about how addiction starts, the connections between legal prescription pain killers and heroin, the symptoms of drug abuse, and the importance of getting medical assistance as soon as a dependency is recognized.

If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol or drug use, stop by and you will find a friendly, informative ear to listen and provide expert advice, or call (877)759-9757