Palisades Park, New Jersey
Palisades Park is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, that got its name from its location which is atop the New Jersey Palisades. A row of steep cliffs situated along the west side of the lower Hudson River in northeastern New Jersey and southeastern New York in the United States. Considered one of the most spectacular geological highlights surrounding New York City, the palisades creates a valley of the Hudson. Originally a part of the Ridgefield Township, Palisades Park has formed a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 22, 1899.
The City and the People
As of 2016, Palisades Park has a population of 20,364 people with a median age of 38.7. In 2015, the average household income of the 7,340 households in this city increased to $64,726 compared to the previous year’s $59,429. The most common occupation in the area is related to sales, management, and administrative-related jobs.
The average property value in Palisades Park, NJ is $513,000, which is larger by 2.64 times than the national average of $194,500. And comparing the year in between 2014 and 2015, the median property value was reduced from $520,200 to $513,000 that is an obvious 1.38% increase.
As of the year 2016, the racial composition of the population of Palisades Park is largely dominated by Asians. The particular numbers being:
· 11,328 Asian residents (55.6%)
· 4,280 White residents (21%)
· 3,986 Hispanic residents (19.6%)
· 292 Black residents (1.43%)
The most common foreign languages in Palisades Park are Korean, Spanish, and Chinese. Comparing this city to other places in the country, the number of people speaking Korean, Greek, and Armenian is relatively high.
If you visit Palisades Park, you will notice a lot of establishments have signs that are written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, because more than half of Palisades Park’s residents are Korean. Even the Borough Hall chose to employ Korean speaking deputy clerks, police officers, and health inspectors. It is vital for the government to have a Korean speaking health inspector since 90% of restaurants in the borough are owned by Koreans.
Prevalence and Commonly Abused Drugs in Bergen, County and New Jersey
In general, the whole of New Jersey is facing a drug crisis and drug overdose is the leading culprit of accidental deaths in the state. The rate of heroin overdose in New Jersey is three times the national average – in which 6,000 deaths since 2004 is attributed to drug overdose.
Bergen County is facing the same problem with heroin. 302 of the 6,000 overdose-caused deaths occurred in this county alone. In the year 2014, 781 deaths were caused by heroin use, 54% of those deaths were people under the age of 40. Furthermore, that same year, the government has logged 52,000 drug-related arrests in the state.
In 2016, Bergen County has registered 308 drug overdose cases, which make it apparent that there is a continuing rise in the prevalent use of heroin and opioid in the borough. However, it can be viewed as a form of good news in a way, that out of the big number of overdose cases, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed on March 16, 2017, that the number of deaths out of those overdoses remained fixed at 87.
Most of the mentioned overdose cases in Bergen County came from its southern area, the highest number at 23 coming from Elmwood Park, some are from Ramsey, Bergenfield, Mahwah, and Emerson. The fourth highest reported cases of 14 overdoses are from Lodi, and it is also the one with the highest rate of most fatalities with reported deaths of 7, while Cliffside Park recorded 6 victims.
Taking this report into account, it gives the idea of how big number of Bergen County residents gave in to the temptation of drug use.
Commonly Abused Drugs
Because it of it being inexpensive and widely available, heroin is the most common drug of choice in New Jersey, and every year, the state is seeing an increase in heroin overdose cases that Bergen County is highly contributing to. What concerns government officials is that even though the county’s size is quite small with a population less than a million, the rate of heroin use and drug overdose is high. Currently, all residents of Bergen County today are all connected somehow to people who have been affected by this widespread crisis.
New Jersey’s growing problem with heroin can be attributed to how its infrastructure provides a means to circulate illegal drugs all throughout the state – thanks to its expansive highways, three large ports, and one of the country’s biggest airports.
Crimes Related to Drug Use in Bergen County
Drug use does not only affect the user but other people’s lives as well. Drug (and even alcohol) use can alter an individual’s normal way of thinking and behavior, pushing them to commit actions they will not do while in their normal state. With regard to drug-related crimes in Palisades Park, Bergen County, and New Jersey as a whole, they can be divided into three types:
· Crimes related to usage. These are crimes that are committed while under the influence of the illegal drugs.
· Crimes related drug funding. These crimes are the ones done by individuals in order to acquire money to support their drug habit. Examples of this type of crime are prostitution and theft.
· System-related crime. These crimes are system-based since it is related to the manufacture or production and sale of drugs. You may have heard of drug cartels, gang or turf wars. These are also examples of system related drug crimes since there are casualties from fights.
Some Recent Crimes Related to Drugs in Bergen County:
· Merciful Parks. When authorities received reports that a man named Merciful Parks, 24, was selling heroin throughout Bergen County, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation and they had an undercover detective watch the man from a month. The detective purchased several bricks of heroin from Parks until the last time when they decided to meet at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall when the detective finally arrested Parks together with his companion, Jeffrey H. Rincon, 28, at the mall’s parking lot. Read the full story here.
· Chmielewski Couple. This couple was facing charges after failing to seek medical help leading to the death of their newly born daughter. Joseph Chmielewski and his wife, Juliann were charged with second-degree murder for risking the wellbeing of their own child. Juliann gave birth to their daughter at their Wallington in Bergen County. The couple was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Read the full story here.
· Richard Giacobone. Richard Giacobone, a police officer in Palisades Park, was caught possessing drugs and anabolic steroids as well as large number of weapons in his home in Summit Avenue. Authorities charged the policer officer with one count each of possession of different illegal substances and possession of ammunition magazines. Read the full story here.
Unfortunately, crimes are the only stigma that surrounds illegal drug use and abuse. Health issues are also a major concern.
· The risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C. The sharing of injection equipment or bodily fluids can be a reason for individuals to acquire some of the gravest consequences of heroin abuse— HIV, infections with hepatitis B and C, and a number of other blood-borne diseases, that in turn can be passed on by drug abusers to their sexual partners, as well as children.
· Medical issues that are not overdoses. Aside from blood-borne diseases, there are other medical consequences that can arise from chronic injection of heroin, such as collapsed veins, abscesses, infections of blood vessels and heart valves. Some forms of heroin that are poorly manufactured contain additives that do not dissolve and may lead to clogging of blood vessels, which connect to major organs like the kidneys, liver, lungs, and brain. These undissolved substances can cause either an infection or a collapse of cells in the mentioned vital organs of the body.
The government is making sure that they exert extra effort in putting a stop to the prevalence of the selling and using of heroin in the state. The numbers of arrests made last year were record-breaking, showing how effective the actions of the government were.
· Operation Justice Served. “Operation Justice Served” was a five-month undercover investigation the government did that ended with the arrest of 45 people related to drug distribution in the Freehold Borough. The government arrested people running a distribution that dealt with not only heroin, but also cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana, operating around the Freehold area and neighboring boroughs.
· Major Gang Bust. When there was a rise in shootings around Monmouth County towns, a nine-month investigation was done by the government, leading to the arrests of 32 people, allegedly members of the Long Branch-based “G-Shine” set of the Bloods street gang.
· Operation Maple Empire. Back in May, a 10-month investigation called, “Operation Maple Empire” by the State Police, was able to dismantle a major heroin drug ring with the arrest of 25 people and at the same time seizing guns, drugs, and cash from different locations around Trenton.
Strategies to Combat Heroin Addiction in NJ
The healthcare community of Bergen County and the law enforcement agencies are teaming up to finally fight the growing crisis of illegal drug addiction.
· Part of their program is to send recovering addicts to the hospital bedsides of victims of drug overdose. This process makes it easier for recovering addicts to understand and visualize what the victims are going through.
· Another step New Jersey is doing in order to achieve a drug-free state is to have a collaboration with local treatment organizations, local law enforcement agencies and medical community leaders. The mission is to form The Knock Out Opioid Abuse series. The talk centers on the issues of prescription drug dependency and heroin abuse.
· Also, state prosecutor Gurbir Grewal has propelled a program called Heroin Addiction Recovery Team or HART for short. The team wants to invite those addicted to illegal substances to go to Paramus, Lyndhurst and Mahwah police departments to get assistance with their drug problem.
According to Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli, anyone suffering from drug addiction can go to any of these three police stations. He gives the assurance that they will not get arrested. Instead, they are more than willing to provide drug addicts assistance and rehabilitation.
The police officer specified further that these individuals have the choice to turn over to the station any of the drugs they still possess, and in case they do, they will not be arrested. Furthermore, if these individuals decide not to go through with rehabilitation even after speaking to a counselor and decides to leave, still no arrest will happen. The main concept of the HART pilot program, according to Police Chief Batelli, is to introduce counseling to people with drug addition, make them aware that there are individuals out there willing to provide them the help they need. Drug users fear police officers, and the HART program is aiming to change that.
With the prevalence of drug use in the state of New Jersey, drug addicts have access to many rehabilitation facilities. There is no single approach for detoxification of the body from drug use and withdrawal symptoms are part of the detoxification process. The advantage of being in a treatment or rehabilitation facility is to supervise a drug addict’s detoxification process.
Inpatient or Outpatient
An inpatient drug treatment is when an addict decides to stay inside a live-in facility or rehab center. With inpatient treatment, it is not only the detoxification process that is facilitated, there is also behavioral therapy included.
On the other hand, for those who are not able to leave their homes, their jobs, or stop school, they can opt for an outpatient treatment wherein individual suffering from drug addiction can visit treatment clinics several times a week for a couple of hours.
First things first…
When beginning to investigate rehab, a variety of words will appear in the literature about options and in personal conversations with representatives. It can be difficult to navigate unless one understands the purpose of each step of the process and what to expect. Assessment is often the starting place after having self-identified or being identified as potentially needing rehab. While assessment varies based on the facility and their approach, as a general rule several individuals with unique focus areas (i.e. social worker, psychologist, nurse, etc.) will work together to understand each potential clients’ circumstances. The client will provide information via questionnaires and conversation, as well as often being asked for a urine and hair sample. This process serves to help the treatment center better understand whether the client is dealing with an actual addiction to said substance, and if so what the depth of their addiction may be. Furthermore, it allows specialists the opportunity to see if there are co-occurring conditions, be they psychological or environmental, at the time of admission.
During this phase of interaction with the potential treatment center, the service provider works with the client to map out what a treatment plan would look like, and seeks to name the ways in which life will change for that individual once they enter into rehab. In doing so, they are able to identify potential barriers to the treatment process, as well as struggles that may be specific to that individual. There is often a web of uncertainty surrounding an addict’s life and having the pre-intake potential plan of treatment can help add a level of stability if it is chosen and followed.
While a client may learn some about a facility during the pre-intake, it remains very important for the client to find the rehab facility that best fits their needs and liking. Plans that are developed in pre-intake are no good if they sit idle in a file cabinet and are never shaped to the lifestyle of a client. Since rehabilitation as an overall process differs from detox in its focus on lifestyle and thought pattern change and overall transformation, the intake process is more of a partnership with the rehab facility, whether it is self-initiated or proposed by a family member or close friend. Paperwork, urine samples, and breathalyzer all generally occur during this stage.
Detox can be a step in a rehabilitation center, and it can be a separate process completely, depending on the approach of the providers. In its most basic form however, detox is the withdrawal and cleansing of the body from the drug. It can be a very difficult process as the body craves the drug and has repeated visceral reactions to not having said drug. Centers are able to help monitor the physical process and do their best to aid in the transition for the client.
The Treatment Process
One of the main benefits of inpatient treatment, or treatment within a facility that offers around the clock care and trained staff to assist with all aspects of the transition, is that the friend groups, stress points, and triggers to use are temporarily removed as one is isolated from the outside world. RTC tends to be focused on individuals who have been struggling with addiction for an extended period of time or who may have been battling another co-occurring issue. PHP (partial hospitalization) allows for the freedom of not needing to stay the night, and yet having more intensive care during the daytime hours than at normal outpatient treatment. The third option, IOP, focuses more on illnesses such as eating disorders and depression, while also treating addiction in a subtle way so that the client is able to go about their work or family life in as normal a routine as possible.
When an addict has a community supporting them and the means to start replenishing the life they diminished during their drug use, outpatient treatment is often a good option. This format often requires meeting with a therapist during the week who specializes in addiction counseling, and following their advice along with the advice of a medical provider.
Whatever route an individual decides to follow when seeking help, it is vital that an aftercare plan is in place for the time period when the initial treatment has ended. Even after returning to society or passing benchmarks for sobriety, triggers such as lifestyle changes may still lead to a relapse. Having an aftercare plan in place helps ensure the recovery will truly be long lasting. Aftercare plans in which individuals “check in” and receive remedial work/information are very common. However, for individuals needing more than occasional realignment, options such as sober living communities exist, where people trying to stay clean live and work together and follow a set of house standards and rules.
Regardless of the route, recovery is worth the effort.