Locking Medicine Cabinets a Solution to Ocean County’s Drug Epidemic?

Sep 28, 2016

The way John Remaglia sees Ocean County’s drug epidemic, the problem starts in the medicine cabinet – specifically with prescription opioids.

“You all know this ends up in heroin addiction because heroin costs $3 a bag, and Oxycontins cost $50 apiece out on the street.”

During the public comment portion of the Sept. 13 Stafford Township Council meeting, Ramaglia, a resident of Forked River, addressed the council and public with an idea and a plea. His idea is to employ preventive measures to combat the county’s drug addiction epidemic by installing a locking medicine cabinet in the home of anyone who wants one, from here to Toms River; his plea is for the town to join “a cohesive effort to identify and share best practices.”

“I’ve suffered a great loss,” he said of his own child’s death by overdose, “and what I see, that I’m trying to get involved with, is stopping (abuse and addiction) before it starts.” The best way to relieve the burden from families, communities, law enforcement and correction facilities, he said, is to reduce the population of new users.

Calling it “a controlled experiment,” Remaglia said his thinking is to attack the problem in Ocean County like a military operation. He wants buy-ins from every town to work together, communicate, put something together, and study it for three to five years. “How do you know (it will work) unless you measure it?”

Stafford is on the leading edge of the problem, he said. Lacey Township is worse off. The ripple effect is that drug dealers will move out of a territory with good enforcement and into a different area – so it behooves everyone to get on the same page so the “bad guys” have nowhere to go.

Education is needed at every level, he urged. As a parent, “I can tell you, you don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late.”

Mayor John Spodofora expressed support for the idea. Finding a solution to the drug problem would reduce crime, save tax dollars and save lives, he said. He urged the public to notify authorities if they see something suspicious.

“This is a big problem communities can solve by working together,” Spodofora said. “Help us to help these children.”

“It’s hard to understand what the right thing to do is,” Remaglia said. But he does understand law enforcement isn’t always enough. “You can’t arrest your way out of this problem. You can’t incarcerate the whole world because of a disease.”  —V.F.


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