"This is an epidemic that knows no boundaries and shows no mercy, and we will show great compassion and resolve as we work together on this important issue." - Governor Chris Christie

 

New Jersey is among the states that have grappled with the country’s opiate crisis, and has introduced several effective policies and strategies to curtail it. It faces some of the greatest challenges and has also responded to the problem with initiatives that are both innovative and compassionate.  On the illegal drug side, the state’s ports are susceptible as conduit for smuggled heroin, and the state is known to have some of the most potent heroin in the country. Much of the current crisis stems from overprescribing of these medications.

Last week Governor Chris Christie was appointed by President Trump to head the Commission on Combating Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Governor Christie has a long history in understanding the complexities and issues surrounding drug dependency and addiction. He is an outstanding choice to lead this commission. This commission is to report in 90 days on issues including treatment availability, best practices, and state prescription monitoring programs, and education/prevention programs for youth. 

Governor Christie has made treating addiction his legacy issue. From expanding NJ’s drug court, to treating drug offenders, and to promoting use of Narcan in reviving overdose victims without fear of prosecution. New Jersey has also developed a recovery mentor program for those who overdose and are vulnerable to relapse. Christie’s final State of the State centered on the opiate crisis and he called on the legislature to respond with statutes. One of these was a bill capping initial opiate prescriptions at five days.

Governor Christie’s mantra on the drug issue all along has been that all lives are worth redeeming and deserve a second chance. At the announcement of his appointment to chair the commission, the governor repeated this view. We hope that President Trump will embrace some of the measures taken by NJ to serve as a national template and recognize that the country’s most valuable resource is its people.

from WhiteHouse.gov:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Executive Order Establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

EXECUTIVE ORDER

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ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON COMBATING DRUG ADDICTION AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to combat the scourge of drug abuse, addiction, and overdose (drug addiction), including opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose (opioid crisis).  This public health crisis was responsible for more than 50,000 deaths in 2015 alone, most of which involved an opioid, and has caused families and communities across America to endure significant pain, suffering, and financial harm.

Sec. 2.  Establishment of Commission.  There is established the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis (Commission).

Sec. 3.  Membership of Commission.  (a)  The Commission shall be composed of members designated or appointed by the President.

(b)  The members of the Commission shall be selected so that membership is fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the Commission.

(c)  The President shall designate the Chair of the Commission (Chair) from among the Commission's members.

Sec. 4.  Mission of Commission.  The mission of the Commission shall be to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis described in section 1 of this order and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.  The Commission shall:

(a)  identify and describe existing Federal funding used to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis;

(b)  assess the availability and accessibility of drug addiction treatment services and overdose reversal throughout the country and identify areas that are underserved;

(c)  identify and report on best practices for addiction prevention, including healthcare provider education and evaluation of prescription practices, and the use and effectiveness of State prescription drug monitoring programs;

(d)  review the literature evaluating the effectiveness of educational messages for youth and adults with respect to prescription and illicit opioids;

(e)  identify and evaluate existing Federal programs to prevent and treat drug addiction for their scope and effectiveness, and make recommendations for improving these programs; and

(f)  make recommendations to the President for improving the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis.

Sec. 5.  Administration of Commission.  (a)  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide administrative support for the Commission.

(b)  Members of the Commission shall serve without any additional compensation for their work on the Commission. Members of the Commission appointed from among private citizens of the United States, while engaged in the work of the Commission, may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, to the extent permitted by law for persons serving intermittently in Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), consistent with the availability of funds.

(c)  Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (Act), may apply to the Commission, any functions of the President under that Act, except for those in section 6 and section 14 of that Act, shall be performed by the Director of the ONDCP, in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Administrator of General Services.

Sec. 6.  Funding of Commission.  The ONDCP shall, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with the need for funding determined by the President, make funds appropriated to the ONDCP available to pay the costs of the activities of the Commission.

Sec. 7.  Reports of Commission.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Commission shall submit to the President a report on its interim recommendations regarding how the Federal Government can address drug addiction and the opioid crisis described in section 1 of this order, and shall submit a report containing its final findings and recommendations by October 1, 2017, unless the Chair provides written notice to the President that an extension is necessary.

Sec. 8.  Termination of Commission.  The Commission shall terminate 30 days after submitting its final report, unless extended by the President prior to that date.

Sec. 9.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE, 
    March 29, 2017.

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