image credit: Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office
MANAHAWKIN, New Jersey – The prosecutor in Ocean County, Joseph D. Coronato, and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Director, Eric T. Kanefsky, announced the arrest of Dr. Liviu T. Holca – the charge: the unlawful distribution of prescription drugs without medical necessity. Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter came the announcement that Dr. Holca’s medical practice has been closed.
Holca is accused of prescribing the drugs Percocet and Xanax to patients for whom there was no medical need. Allegedly, Dr. Holca wrote the unnecessary prescriptions between July 2013 and August 2013.
Percocet is a brand name for oxycodone, a powerful narcotic painkiller notorious for its abuse potential. Xanax belongs to a different class of drugs – anti-anxiety medications – that are also often abused for their sedative and relaxing effect.
Eight undercover operations were conducted by the Southern Enforcement group and gathered evidence that indicates that Dr. Holca dispensed narcotic prescription drugs that was not in accordance with “the usual course of his practice.”
After the investigation, the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor then charged Holca with ‘Distribution of Percocet without any medical necessity,’ ‘Distribution of Xanax without any medical necessity’ and a slew of other similar charges.
A court-authorized search of Dr. Holca’s residence yielded loaded firearms, a number of a suspected controlled dangerous substances as well as a large amount of money. All of which points to the illegal and unethical selling of prescription drugs.
Prosecutor Coronato is quoted as saying, “No one wakes up and suddenly decides today I’m doing heroin. Abuse of prescription pills is the precursor to a life of dangerous street level drug addiction. It’s only a matter of time before an addicted person’s habit pushes them from high priced pills to cheap street heroin.”
Dr. Holca remains in the Ocean County Jail pending determination of bail. The investigation is ongoing.
Prescription Drugs and America
Dr. Holca is listed under Family Medicine, meaning that he is a primary care physician, not a specialist. And this fits the prescription drug trend in America: the CDC reports that most prescription drugs in American are prescribed by the family/primary care doctor. And, astonishingly, only about 20% of prescribing docs prescribe 80% of all prescription meds.
Statistics inform us that the current trend in medicine and drug use and abuse is that opiates are the most prescribed drug in America; roughly 56% of painkiller prescriptions were given to patients who had filled another prescription for pain from the same or different physician within the past 30 days. This is nearly a twenty-year increase in prescription painkiller use.
In the span of a mere 10 year period, from 1991 to 2009, prescriptions for narcotic painkillers increased almost threefold, to over 200 million.
An analysis of national prescribing patterns shows that more than half of patients who received a narcotic prescription in 2009 had filled another prescription for a similar drug within the previous month.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Already among the highest in the state, overdose deaths from heroin and prescription drugs in Ocean County, N.J. more than doubled in 2013. And, although we’ve only marked off 16 days of 2014, there have already been three fatal overdoses.
“It is a suburban epidemic facing us throughout New Jersey,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “A lot of suburban counties are affected at dangerous levels.”
Ocean County is comprised of a string of beach towns, connected by a boardwalk, and perhaps best known today for the long-running reality series “The Jersey Shore.”
In 2012, 53 people died of heroin and prescription drug overdoses in this New Jersey county, which gave it the state title for highest number of heroin-related emergency room visits – putting Ocean County ahead of more urban counties, such as Hudson and Essex that are more heavily populated.
Put it this way, Ocean County has less than 7% of New Jersey’s population yet, in 2011 it led the state with 11% of all hospital admissions and again in 2012 with 11.4%.
In 2013, Ocean County’s overdose death toll peaked at 112, with the majority of which being heroin-related – roughly 10% of a state total of 1,188 overdose deaths. And now, three more in the few short days of this New Year. The local police department has issued a warning about a possibly tainted brand of heroin being sold under the name “Bud Light.”
The Link Between Prescription Drugs and Heroin
As with opiate and heroin epidemics in other states across the country, the uptick in heroin use can be directly correlated with the outrageous over-prescribing of narcotic painkillers. Kids have easy access to these powerful and dangerous medications – these drugs are just an arm’s reach away in their parents’ medicine cabinets.
“Prescription drugs are a gateway drug to heroin,” said Valente.
Prosecutors for Ocean County have begun resorting to outside-the-box measures by distributing warning cards to funeral homes in order to educate families on the importance of responsibly disposing of unused prescription medications, especially narcotic opiates meds, which may be left behind by their recently deceased family members.
“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,” say prosecuters.
Heroin: A Nationwide Epidemic
Heroin and Ohio
Ohio State Attorney General, Mike DeWine said in his State of the State address that his office gathered by his office “suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week from a heroin overdose.”
He goes on to say that this astonishing new trend is a “heroin epidemic” that has affected every community in Ohio.
The past month alone revealed a 107% increase in heroin deaths in over half of Ohio’s counties.
Heroin and Vermont
Federal statistics reveal that Vermont is now ranked among the top 10 states for the abuse of painkillers and heroin, not including marijuana, for people aged 18 to 25 years old. According to the Vermont Health Department, the number of overdose deaths due to heroin almost doubled, increasing from nine to 17 last year.
If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin abuse or other drug abuse problem or drug addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Drug rehab in Ocean County
Programs for drug rehab in Ocean County are available to help treat you for substance dependence, substance abuse, and addiction issues – all of which are medical conditions that can be treated by medical treatment that includes both medication(s) and therapy. The goal of the drug rehab in Ocean County is to first detox you from alcohol and other drugs in a safe and comfortable environment. Safety and comfort are of the utmost importance because the detoxification process from alcohol and other drugs is unpleasant and should never be done by the cold turkey method and never alone. A drug rehab in Ocean County will evaluate you and then stabilize your condition so that you are safe and comfortable. You will have your meals provided to you by kitchen personnel at the drug rehab in Ocean County.
Drug Rehab in Ocean County: What is it?
A drug rehab is a medical facility and program that serves to help people who are physically dependent on alcohol and drugs to stop using in a safe manner and with less discomfort. After being evaluated, the medical personnel at the drug rehab in Ocean County will stabilize you with the use of medications so as to alleviate your withdrawal symptoms and keep you both safe and comfortable.
Detox Programs Essential Part of Drug Rehab in Ocean County
You may have realized that your drinking and drugging has gotten out of hand when you tried to stop or cut back only to experience uncomfortable and even scary symptoms that caused you to go right back to using for fear of stopping. Your instincts are right. What you are experiencing is a serious medical condition known as withdrawal syndrome, which is a set of symptoms that range from extremely uncomfortable to potentially fatal, depending on what you have been using (this includes alcohol). That is why attending a drug rehab in Ocean County with a detox program is necessary. Your drug and alcohol detox will last anywhere from 4 to 10 days depending on your progress. A caring and nurturing medical staff will monitor your condition, checking your vitals in the morning and at night and administer your medications at these times, too.
Drug Rehab in Ocean County Offers Inpatient Treatment
Once you have completed the detox phase and your condition is stabilized, you will enter the rehabilitation phase, which usually lasts for about 30 days. During this phase of drug rehab in Ocean County, you will learn about substance abuse and addiction and be given tools to support you once you successfully complete the program so that you can be successful at leading a happy, healthy, and sober lifestyle. You will learn about triggers and relapse and you will learn relapse prevention methods. It can be a bumpy road to long term sobriety and the counselors and therapists at your drug rehab in Ocean County are aware of this. They will work with you on ways to avoid the pitfalls of addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
People who overdose on heroin in one New Jersey County soon will have access to an OD antidote that can revive them — and it will be given to them by the police. This program, which will be available to all 33 towns in Ocean County, is to begin early next year. It includes the prescription drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan. The Heroin OD antidote can briefly reverse the potentially fatal effects of heroin so first responders have enough time to revive an unconscious victim (even if they have stopped breathing!) before arriving at the hospital for additional treatment. Narcan can be used with any drug with opioids, such as narcotics and painkillers.
The medical director of Emergency Training and Consulting, Dr. Kenneth G. Lavelle, spoke at a meeting of police chiefs Tuesday at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to discuss the program. The police in Camden County are also working toward having access to this Heroin OD antidote; apparently there have been 138 deaths related to drugs in Camden County in 2012. In my opinion, I think this is a great idea and could have benefited a lot of people in the past and definitely will in the future. There is a lot of people out there that are hardcore drug addicts that end up overdosing on the streets and have no one there to help them. It’ll be nice to know that the police who are monitoring the area will have an antidote for that.
The Heroin OD antidote Narcan costs about $25 and the training of officers would take just about 15 minutes, Dr. Kenneth G. Lavelle said. It is expected to take about 3 months for all officers to be trained. “You can actually give it, just like a nasal spray,” Lavelle said. “The individual (police officer) would open up the box, pop off two pieces of plastic, assemble it, and they would just hold this to the nose and squirt. There are no needles. There are no risks.” It makes a lot of sense for them to give this antidote to the police seeing as they are the first to show up to a scene after 911 is called.
According to Dr. Lavelle this is not new, it has been used in other states; it is just new in New Jersey. It seems they also would like to attempt getting this antidote to people who live with a suffering drug addict. Can you imagine how many lives would be saved? If your friends or family had an antidote on them, but would those really help addicts? I think it could definitely be used for good purpose in saving someone’s life but it can also be a way for someone to keep using. I know it would have been nice when I was out there getting high to know if I overdosed, the person with me could revive me! Along with using the antidote to save people, I hope once it is used they give them options or suggestions to look into treatment, as well. Saving a life with the antidote is amazing and all but to keep them alive they would have to achieve sobriety and work a program of recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.