The nation’s growing opioid epidemic was described in detail today by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Bradford Seabury before a group of senior citizens in Morris Township.
While the audience of about 40 may have differed from similar presentations of the prosecutor’s office, the setting aptly symbolized the extent of the problem. As Seabury explained, opioid addiction is not limited by geography, race or age.
Seabury, who heads the prosecutor’s office Special Enforcement Unit, noted that an estimated 91 individuals die daily in the United States to opioid addiction. Preliminary estimates from last year suggest that the number of those killed by opioid addiction in 2016 exceeded the 58,500 Americans killed during the Vietnam War.
“It (opioid addiction) has proliferated our society,” said Prosecutor Knapp. “It is killing people at an alarming rate.”
Morris County is not immune. Seabury said this year’s 49 opioid-related deaths exceeds the total for all of 2015. He called opioids the nation’s most abused drug after alcohol.
Seabury said one key to fighting opioid addiction is limiting the availability of prescription painkillers. A new state law that limits doctors to proscribing only a five-day supply of painkillers is a step in the right direction, Seabury said.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office also concentrates on arresting those who sell drugs for profit while steering many drug users into treatment programs. State drug courts, which offer users a rigorous probation and treatment program, are integral to that effort, Seabury said.
Prosecutor Knapp and Seabury spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Morris Township Municipal Alliance and the township Health Department. Also participating in the luncheon were the Morris Township Police Department and Township Administrator Tim Quinn, a retired police chief.