NJ turning the tide on opioid epidemic? Fewer deaths in 2019
Gov. Phil Murphy says efforts to stop New Jersey’s opioid abuse epidemic are working.
During a visit to a drug treatment facility in Washington Township in Warren County, he said the 2019 overdose deaths tied to the opioid epidemic were about 3% less than a year earlier.
“The total deaths are 3,021 — each of them a blessed human being, each of them gone and each of them representing families around the state who will grieve their loss forever more," Murphy said.
“It’s 97 fewer deaths in 2019 than there were in 2018, and it does come on the heels of multiple year-over-year double-digit increases. However, it’s still 3,021 deaths too many.”
Murphy pointed out that opioid prescriptions decreased by 6% in a year.
The state has pumped $100 million a year in the past two budgets to address the opioid crisis.
"You should assume we will continue the fight," he said about the next budget that he will propose this year.
Murphy said a comprehensive collaboration across state departments and agencies is addressing the opioid abuse epidemic and analysis of data is playing a big role in the effort.
He added an emphasis on providing treatment for those in need and an all-out push by law enforcement to stem the tide of illegal drugs is also helping turn the tide.
During the roundtable event, state Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said expanding opioid treatment options in Medicaid and in the criminal justice system is playing a vital role in getting those hooked on drugs the help they need to get clean.
Human Services plans to launch a campaign to promote the 844-ReachNJ 24/7 hotline that can be used to connect Garden State residents to addiction treatment options.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said a series of law enforcement initiatives and actions have been focused on prevention, enforcement and treatment, and he praised police for helping to get those addicted to drugs into treatment, while stepping efforts to stop the flow of illegal drugs.
Tthe Opioid Enforcement Task Force dismantled 11 heroin mills last year that were associated with more than 350 overdoses and 133 deaths.
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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com