Bringing in 2015 on a Positive Note

I’ve heard it often said that starting out the New Year on a positive note will lead to good luck and prosperity. Last week, I was pleased to share with you some good news to celebrate this holiday season regarding the largely positive results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future Study. This week, I’m happy to continue this trend and help start 2015 with hope for the future.

NJ.com recently reported the passage of several pieces of legislation in the New Jersey State Senate. Among these is Senate Bill S-2366, sponsored by Senators Vitale and Weinberg. Despite the rather unassuming official name and number, S-2366 is poised to strengthen substance abuse prevention when it becomes law. The bill would require doctors to have a discussion with their patients (and their parents if the patient is a minor) of the addictive nature of opiate based prescription drugs before prescribing them. Also, it would require the patient to formally acknowledge in writing they have discussed with their practitioner the addictive nature of opiate based prescriptions and where appropriate, reasonable alternatives to those drug products. Knowing the addictive qualities of these prescriptions will give patients as well as parents forewarning to monitor their loved ones and children for the signs and symptoms of opiate abuse, which can be found on the Partnership’s newest campaign site, TalkNowNJ.com.

Now that this major milestone has passed the Senate, the next step is to go before the State Assembly to be voted on. Once it passes the Assembly, S-2366 will go to the Governor to be signed into law. When that happens, New Jersey will be taking a very proactive approach to addressing the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse.

Another bill that will address the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse is Senate Bill S-1998, also sponsored by Senators Vitale and Weinberg, which would make the use of New Jersey’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program a requirement of all physicians practicing in the state who are prescribing prescription drugs that can become addictive. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) is a database maintained by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General that tracks the prescribing of addictive prescriptions. Doctors who are enrolled in the program can use it to see if a patient they are treating is frequently being prescribed similar drugs and if they might be doctor shopping for pills. These pills maybe either feeding their own addiction or used for illicit sale. S-1998 is due to be voted on in the New Year.

As we have stated in the past, no amount of legislation can replace the importance of parental involvement in children’s lives. The hopeful passage of these two important Senate bills are one piece of the solution to this problem. It still begins and ends with you: the parents and community leaders of New Jersey. As 2014 draws to a close, there continues to be more tragedies related to this devastating disease, but as we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, there is plenty to be hopeful for.

Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year from all of us at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey!

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