New Jersey Combats The Drug Epidemic
“Liberty and prosperity” is the motto of the great state of New Jersey. While the state fashions a beautiful array of attractions such as its beaches, the infamous Atlantic City, Seaside heights, and over 50 resort cities and towns, it is also home to one of the fastest growing Opiate epidemic’s in the United States. As awareness rises all throughout the country, New Jersey is also seeing political action being taken to help combat the increasing problems that are being experienced by the many deaths that are occurring due to the crisis that is sweeping our nation by storm.
Earlier this year, Gov. Christie unveiled his plan to not only help battle the epidemic, but also to increase awareness regarding treatment options for those who are suffering from the disease of addiction. “I am ready to work with and listen to anyone with more ideas on how to address this issue,” Christie said.
“I am willing to accept ideas from any corner of this state, from any political party and from any level of government.” While Christie has not always been the most popular Governor, his words ring true. Earlier this year the CDC reported New Jersey as being one of the states where drug related deaths increased exponentially. On a national level, New Jersey saw a 16.4 percent increase in death increases related to drug use and a 22 percent increase from the previous year on a state level.
Declaring the epidemic, a public health crisis, Christi signed an executive order into law that grants him additional resources to battle the epidemic. The plan creates a task force, a panel consisting of eight people, on drug abuse that will devise different methods to help fight addiction. Changing regulations, amending statutes or recommending new laws are all possible solutions the bill is suggesting.
The order also directs the state Attorney General to limit initial prescription of opioids and set guidelines so any additional prescriptions require further medical consultation, ensures 18- and 19-year-old with substance abuse problems can fill any vacancies in existing treatment facilities, and directs the state Commissioner of Education to develop a new curriculum for each grade that will teach students about the dangers of substance abuse.
“Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.” Christie said to a room full of lawmakers earlier this year and let them know that he would not have the blood of New Jersians on his hands. He also plans to work with the Trump administration to help treatment centers revive more funding for facilities who have a limited number of beds. Christie plans to work with lawmakers to see this bill through and until we begin to see results.
Although this will not be an overnight task and there are still many things that can be done to help combat this sizable epidemic, it is a step in the right direction for the state of New Jersey and a move towards progress for the rest of the United States. New Jersey has joined many other states who are passing similar legislation in attempts to join the fight against addiction.