NJ lawmakers want county teams to investigate all overdoses
Legislation working its way through Trenton would establish overdose fatality review teams in each county.
Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic County, is one of the bill's co-sponsors. He says there is clearly a need to take a closer look.
"When reversals of Narcan are way way up and the death rate still keeps going up, we have a serious problem," he said.
"Unfortunately, we down in Atlantic County are just as hard hit as probably every other county in the state, where we're trying to find ways to better educate ourselves so we can get more resources out to people who need it."
Getting in the way, he says, is stigma that prevents some people from seeking treatment or lack of trust in recovery facilities.
He says the teams established by the state health commissioner would review evidence about the fatal overdoses gathered by the local coroner.
The teams would meat at least quarterly to review the data and "develop an understanding of the causes of drug overdoses," recommend changes to law and policy, and promote cooperation among agencies to provide services to people with addiction.
Armato says they need to put the anti-drug resources to maximum use.
"I'm going to tell you that there is no silver bullet. We need multiple agencies working on multiple different things to chip away at this disease of addiction."
The bill to establish the review teams passed the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee earlier this month. He also has a bill on the governor's desk to put a secondary label on opiate prescription bottles warning their use can cause addiction or an overdose.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5