The heroin epidemic is making its way into the bathrooms of public libraries nationwide, including here in New Jersey, according to a report. The Associated Press cited New Brunswick, Middlesex County, where overdoses have taken place in library bathrooms.

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“Unfortunately, we have ascertained that some of the libraries in Ocean County have also been seeing that there has been some use of the lavatories for using heroin," said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, where the opiate epidemic has hit particularly hard.

While it's uncertain what makes those facilities, or any public restroom, including gas stations, shopping centers and restaurants, attractive to drug addicts, Coronato offers a possible explanation. Heroin addicts experience flu-like symptoms when the opiate isn't in their system, so as soon as they start experiencing chills, vomiting or even convulsions, they panic and want to immediately get the opiate back into their body, according to Coronato.

"I think that's one of the reason's why they certainly can't sit out on a lawn or on a bench and either shoot up or inhale the opiate, so what they'll do is go to some private place, and unfortunately the only private place that they may be able to do it is in either their car or some instances, even the restroom," Coronato said.

Libraries in some states encourage overdose prevention training, including how to administer Narcan.

"I don't think that it's gotten to that extent, though I do think that Narcan has been distributed out to many different sources. I know that security personnel, both at schools and other places, do have Narcan, and if there is an instance where they come across somebody unfortunately who has overdosed in those facilities, immediately the EMT's are called out, or if they happen to have some on site, they can utilize it right then and there," Coronato said. He added, the problem a lot of times is that if someone uses heroin in a stall, or inside the lavatory, it takes a while for anybody to ascertain that they're there.

Coronato advised the public to be aware of what's happening, especially those who may have a loved one suffering from drug addiction, talking to that person and trying to convince them to get help.

"They all seem to believe that they can manage this themselves, and this is not something they really can manage themselves, and they do need help," Coronato said.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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