Free Narcan is not the answer — Murphy making things worse (Opinion)
On Tuesday the state of New Jersey is giving away 20,000 packages of Narcan.
This wonder drug can reverse the effects of a drug overdose and has been credited with saving 16,000 lives in NJ since 2015. Although on the surface it seems that the pilot program, which will cost taxpayers $1.5 million is a good idea, the truth is a bit uglier.
In typical fashion, the Governor and the hacks in his administration are excited to share the news and encourage everyone to save lives. The problem? Since 2015, the opioid crisis in NJ has gotten worse, not better. Narcan distribution, awareness campaigns and sympathetic politicians have done nothing to curb the growing crisis. Under Governor Chris Christie, the number of recovery beds available for underprivileged victims fell by more than 40%.
Now under Governor Murphy, paperwork and bureaucratic processes have delayed dozens of recovery clinics from opening including one in Freehold that will be run by our friends at CFC Loud-N-Clear, which is one of the strongest and most effective groups in NJ fighting on the front lines of the epidemic. This despite the group having a success rate among recovering addicts of 95%.
Narcan surely saves lives and has been used to save approximately 16,000 people since 2015. Yet, the problem of addiction persists. NJ actions sound like the the definition of insanity: keep doing the same thing and hope for different results. Like handing out Narcan to people who don't necessarily know a person who may need it. There is no control or accountability. This is simply a feel good effort on the part of the Governor to score emotional points.
Really want to help? Restore some of the recovery beds for those in economic distress. Offer grants to groups like CFC Loud and City of Angels. And the big idea, involuntary commitment to a treatment center and sober living with a recognized group.
Anytime an EMT or Police Officer uses Narcan to bring an overdose victim back to life, six months of commitment should follow. But to give out thousands of Narcan kits hoping that enough people will be at the right place at the right time to save a life is foolish at best. At worst, it gives the public a false sense of security that NJ is actually doing something to combat the crisis.
The truth is NJ is failing. Failing to the tune of more than 3,000 deaths last year. Failing to approve local groups ready, willing and able to help. Failing Moms and Dads who just want to see their kids get the help they need. Failing to account for millions of dollars that could be focused on actual solutions. So just like Chris Christie, Murphy grabs a nice headline and people continue to be enabled to get back on the street to kill themselves with heroin.
It's time to have a Governor with a practical plan to actually solve the problem instead of paying lip service to this deadly epidemic.
If you missed my conversation about this on Facebook LIVE today, watch the video below and join me every Tuesday at 10am at Facebook.com/NJ1015
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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