The New Jersey Legislature will consider a package of bills sponsored by local Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that takes aim at the epidemic of opioid abuse in the State of New Jersey. The measures tackle opioid abuse on several fronts, incorporating public awareness, education, and responsible regulation of prescriptions.
“The Governor is finally paying attention to what has become a public health crisis in our state,” said Downey (D-Monmouth), “Too many families are suffering due to addiction, and this bill package will make sure our state is providing important tools to help our citizens fight this epidemic."
The bill package aims to fight opioid abuse on three levels. The first bill would urge the State of New Jersey to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for opioid prescriptions. This responsible regulation of opioid pain medication can help reverse the cycle of misuse. The second measure encourages school districts and nonpublic schools to incorporate policies that address abuse of prescription opioids, to educate students on the dangers of abuse and addiction.
The final bill, called the “HOPE Initiative Act,” would establish a statewide public awareness campaign focused on opioid addiction. The campaign would not only address misconceptions and stigma surrounding opioid abuse, but also educate residents to the warning signs of opioid abuse and promote availability of rehabilitation programs for those in the grips of addiction.
“Fighting opioid abuse has been one of our top priorities since day one, and these are crucial steps we need to take to start saving lives, and preventing addiction from occurring in the first place,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), “And for those already suffering from the disease of addiction, we need to reach out with compassion and care, to let them know there is help and hope.”