They just keep happening, and there’s no rhythm to the awful news.
First there are phone calls, then word spreads on social media, like all day last Sunday in Hamilton, Kevin Meara said.
Nicole Germann died, he heard. Nick Leona did, too.
She was 23, he was 20.
Both struggled and battled heroin addiction, their families said.
Their deaths were not related, and they were in different social circles, but they both grew up in Hamilton and Meara heard about their deaths within hours last weekend.
They died on the same day: Saturday, July 22, 2017.
A few days later, their obituaries surfaced online and condolences poured in for their loved ones. And GoFundMe pages were started to help out their grieving families.
Meara’s not sure what to call it, when he gets more than one call, “a run,” maybe?
It started in April, with a young man from Lacey, Ocean County, who passed away. Then there was a 19-year-old Hamilton girl in May. And before last weekend, a young woman from Hopewell.
Meara hears about them through his work with City of Angels, the addiction recovery organization he founded in 2008 after his son KC Meara died from a heroin overdose.
And it’s startlingly somewhat routine, Meara said.
Last weekend’s news has happened before, and sadly, he said, it’s likely to occur again.
“This is preventable. That’s the biggest impact for me. It is preventable,” Meara said.
Law enforcement is on board, opioid addiction awareness is growing, treatment options are there (although Meara said out-of-state centers are more popular) and the medical side is improving, Meara said. Antidotes like naloxone and Narcan are in police cars, and in people’s homes.
“The system hasn’t caught up to the epidemic yet,” Meara said. “A lot of those things are going to take a while to have an impact.”
So far, the number of deaths from drug overdoes are climbing…