PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The opioid addiction crisis, that has impacted communities all over the country, has taken another devastating turn. We learned that the rise in opioid related deaths is pushing local morgues to capacity.
Heroin and opioid related deaths have nearly doubled in the last two decades. For loved ones, it is a lost that leaves a gaping hole, but we learned that the issue also takes up a lot of space.
“When I’m not using, I feel like I don’t really fit in,” said Anthony Colona.
More than a decade ago, his prescription pill abuse progresses into a full-blown heroin addiction. It’s a common start with an unlikely outcome. He is now eight months clean.
“I love my job, and you know, life can be frustrating here sometimes, but I realized that the alternative really is death,” Colona explained.
A collection of hobbies and Hawaiian shirts keep Dr. Gerald Feigin positive, which is a necessity because he doesn’t meet people like Anthony. “I don’t hear about the ones that survive,” said Feigin, the Gloucester County Medical Examiner. “I only get the ones that don’t as medical examiner.”
Between Gloucester, Salem and Camden counties, he’s seen 79 drug deaths this year…almost all heroin.
It’s a steady increase that has left many local morgues crowded. Thus, refrigerated buildings, newly purchased, are serving as additional storage, capable of housing 55 bodies.
“We have that for the future and hopefully we won’t need it,” Feigin said.
Over the bridge, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced his request for additional funding to help fight Pennsylvania’s plaguing opioid crisis.
At 31, Colona said a lot of his friends have lost their lives to addiction and every day, he makes the decision not to. “In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m sort of carrying their memory with my success,” he said.
The use of Narcan has become more widespread. It’s a powerful overdose reversal tool, though it has yet to offset the steep and steady increase in drug users.