New Jersey Treatment: Prevention is the Key to Dealing with Addiction
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8,000 people died from heroin overdose in the United States in 2013, almost a four-fold increase from 2002. Heroin related deaths in the United States and more specifically, New Jersey, have reached astronomical levels. In 2014, New Jersey lost 781 lives to heroin, marking the fourth straight year that these numbers have increased.
The effects of the heroin epidemic are gaining more attention, because its use has exploded and is not only ruining the lives of the user who become slaves to the drug, but family members and citizens that witness the drug’s destructive nature. Richard Nixon’s 1971 war on drugs is failing and proving that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. As a result, the state is turning to New Jersey addiction treatment centers and prevention programs in order to raise awareness and provide a means for help.
Prevention and treatment are now beginning to play a bigger role, thankfully. New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie is starting to back the emphasis of treatment, and pointed out that drug addiction needs to be treated as a disease instead of a crime. Governor Christie signed three bills into laws dealing with heroin and opioids, and the White House announced new strategies proposed by New York and New Jersey high Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, which is trying to pair law officials with public health workers and will also support getting heroin users treatment instead of jail time.
The problem that arises is that there are insufficient treatment facilities in New Jersey, making it so that there is nowhere to go for the many people that need drug treatment centers throughout the state. The demand for treatment greatly outweighs the supply. The worst part of the situation is that very few heroin users have access to insurance or the means to pay for treatment, as well.
Governor Christie announced his plans for two significant efforts to bolster the ways in which substance abuse treatment in New Jersey is accessed and provided. Christie launched an effort to streamline how those who suffer from substance abuse seek treatment. Anyone in the state that is seeking addiction treatment will contact one single phone number and be connected to a treatment facility in their area.
Christie also announced that he plans to expand the offender re-entry program that is currently in place for Hudson County Correctional Facility, to five other cities: Newark, Paterson, Toms River, Trenton, and Atlantic City. The addiction treatment program at the Hudson County Jail has shown great success, since it helps connect drug offenders to the treatment they need while they are in jail. Hudson County Jail’s treatment program also connects them to housing, additional drug treatment, and employment services once their jail sentence is up.
Christie’s actions represent significant steps taken in the battle against heroin and opioid abuse in New Jersey. Governor Christie knows that he needs to expand and streamline drug treatment in the Garden State, and his main focus is to treat addiction like a disease with a focus on treatment over incarceration.