NEW: Jupiter heroin-related first-half ‘17 overdose numbers released


Highlights

Jupiter officials say national and state help needed to combat overdoses

Big overdose increase also in 2016 in Jupiter

Last year’s spike in numbers of heroin-related overdoses in Jupiter shows the opioid epidemic is tightening its grim grip — at least in the first half of 2017.

Calls to Jupiter police on heroin overdoses increased more than 400 percent last year between January and July compared to the same period in 2016. Eight died from heroin-related overdoses during the first seven months of last year in Jupiter.

JUPITER READERS: Sign up for The Post’s weekly Jupiter newsletter here

There have been 22 deaths in Jupiter from heroin-related overdoses since 2014. Each year, the number increased, according to Jupiter police figures.

“What’s being done is not working. This is a national and medical problem. Our local dollars are not enough to find a solution,” said Jupiter Vice Mayor Wayne Posner.

READ: Why Palm Beach County is the ‘epicenter’ of the deadly opioid crisis

One promising statistic — in Delray, considered to be the area’s unofficial recovery hub, numbers dwindled in the later part of 2017. Jupiter’s second-half 2017 numbers have not been released.

Corey Crowley, a resident of the Jupiter River Estates neighborhood where the three drug-related murders occurred last February on Mohawk Street, said town officials and police are doing the best they can.

“You can’t blame the police or the town for this mess. Maybe the town should file a lawsuit like Delray Beach against the big pharmaceutical companies,” said Crowley, referring to the federal lawsuit Delray Beach filed last month against some of the largest drug-makers and distributors in the country.

The lawsuit says Delray Beach has spent $3 million treating victims of the opioid epidemic.

READ: Delray Beach sues Fortune 500 opiod makers for ‘scourge of opioid addiction’

Jupiter Police created a task force through public and private partnerships to fight the epidemic, Chief Frank Kitzerow said via e-mail.

“These partnerships are the key to public outreach, education and prevention, and resources for individuals battling addiction,” Kitzerow said.

Countywide, deaths from opioid overdoses during 2017 are expected to exceed those in 2016, which mirror Jupiter’s statistics.

According to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, 552 people lost their lives inside the county’s borders to drug overdoses in 2016 — a 106 percent leap from 2015, when 268 people overdosed and died. In 2014, there were 167 fatal overdoses.

The final numbers for all of 2017 won’t be available in Palm Beach County communities until later this year.

The numbers are proof that Jupiter is now facing the same opioid problems as the rest of Palm Beach County, Mayor Todd Wodraska said.

More public outreach, working with other government agencies, maybe even requiring Jupiter police to carry Narcan are solutions being considered, he said. Narcan is injected to opioid overdose victims and blocks the effects of heroin and other drugs.

Narcan is carried by Palm Beach County Fire Rescue officials in Jupiter, Kitzerow said.

“If we begin to see a delay in response times, we will re-evaluate the necessity of our officers carrying Narcan,” he added.

Wodraska pointed to the clearing in October of two vacant acres of land next to the Jupiter Community Center as specific anti-drug action taken. The property, bought by the town for $3 million, was a gathering spot for homeless people and drug users, Wodraska said.

“This increase in overdoses is troubling. We’ll spend tax dollars to help. We’re trying to figure out what to do,” he added.

RELATED: The Post’s special report: HEROIN: KILLER OF A GENERATION

Other communities also show an increase in 2017 numbers. Boynton Beach first responders dealt with 571 overdoses through the early part of December, at least a 33 percent increase from 2016’s total of 433 overdoses. Figures show 58 people have died this year compared to 35 in 2016, a jump of nearly 66 percent.

Deadly kratom could add to opioid epidemic, FDA official says

In West Palm Beach, overdoses are also booming with Fire Rescue crews responding to 705 calls through mid-December, a surge of nearly 60 percent from 447 overdoses in 2016.

The use of Narcan by the city’s first responders has also jumped 48 percent, according to West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.

The use of fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, compounds the problem in Palm Beach County and across the country, officials say. Carfentanil, a fentanyl analogue used as an anesthetic for large animals like elephants and bears, became evident locally in the latter half of 2016.

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Jorge Milian contributed to this story.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport
TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport

Television film crew members were arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday for allegedly trying to pass a piece of luggage containing “all the makings of an improvised explosive device,” ABC News reported. The film crew members, who claimed to be working the CNBC show “Staten Island Hustle,” were detained...
There’s plenty rhyme, reason in these Deadline Limerick submissions
There’s plenty rhyme, reason in these Deadline Limerick submissions

OK, enough limericks. I need a break. I’m starting to see five-line ditties in my sleep. Several days ago, I used this column and the annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival as an excuse to challenge readers to come up with “deadline limericks” — ones that play off the news. And I wrote that in a future column I would publish some...
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut

Plenty of big cities aren’t on Amazon’s long short list of 20 places it’s still considering for a second headquarters and 50,000 high-paying jobs. While the Seattle-based giant kept Atlanta in the running, here are some of the notable cities that aren’t: Phoenix San Diego Charlotte Detroit Cincinnati San Francisco...
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical...
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can

Amanda Mattuchio said her parents use a fake can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to hide their cash. Unfortunately, they stored it alongside real soup cans in their kitchen. “The bottom would unscrew and it had $2,500 in it and it was a combination of $100 and $50 bills,” she said. “The neighbor upstairs asked them if they had any canned...
More Stories