Taking on New Jersey’s Opioid Crisis

Too many residents and their families continue to struggle with addiction. Too many communities continue to be ravaged by an epidemic of overdoses, particularly from opioids. Most tragically, over the last decade, 5,000 residents of our state have died from heroin and opioid overdoses alone.

These deaths are entirely preventable. Phil recognizes that addiction is an illness, and that it is treatable with the right resources and focus in place. Treating and preventing addiction saves lives and allows people to return home to their families and get back to work. This money is well-spent, too: for every dollar we spend on drug treatment, we save more than $10 in long-term costs.

As governor, Phil will remove the the stigma that surrounds addiction and tackle our opioid epidemic by:

  • Expanding access to drug treatment facilities: New Jersey has too few drug treatment beds to meet present needs. As a result, many people only receive treatment after being arrested — a painful and wasteful process. Phil will pool state, federal, and private resources to expand access to addiction treatment facilities statewide.
  • Increasing access to preventive medical treatment: Phil will require health insurers to cover Medication-Assisted Treatment, a comprehensive approach to treating opioid addiction, which includes medication, counseling, and support from family and friends. He will also allow nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and physician assistants to prescribe any medications necessary to treat addiction.
  • Establishing a 7-day limit on initial opiate prescriptions: Addiction often begins when a patient receives an initial prescription for painkillers — particularly amongst athletes. Phil will limit initial opiate prescriptions to a 7-day supply, which will limit the potential for overdose.
  • Lowering the cost of Narcan: Many communities cannot afford to purchase Narcan, which reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. Phil will negotiate directly with Narcan’s manufacturer to purchase the drug at a discount, and make it available statewide.
  • Funding a public awareness campaign about opioid addiction prevention: Phil will work with schools and community centers to increase awareness of the dangers of opioids.
  • Expand support systems for individuals who overdose: Individuals who receive Narcan must be treated for the underlying addiction. Phil will work with local partners to expand support systems for these individuals immediately after an overdose — relying on recovery specialists who are former addicts themselves and understand the struggle of addiction.