Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Statement on Senate Bill 2156Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey: Statement on Senate Bill 2156


Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey

Statement on Senate Bill 2156

October 13, 2016


Good Afternoon.

Thank you Chairman Sarlo for your support of this bill and thank you Senator Diegnan for co-sponsoring the Assembly version of this bill, last year.  This bill passed almost unanimously in the last session, and I thank all of the members of this committee for your support in the passing of this bill during the previous legislative session and today.

New Jersey is battling an opioid abuse epidemic. There is no disputing this fact.

Everyone must have a role in reversing this epidemic – including, law makers, parents, coaches, educators and yes, even doctors and dentists.

The United States Surgeon General just visited New Jersey on August 8th and said, we need physicians and nurses to have conversations with patients about the addictive potential of opiates in order to address the ever growing numbers of patients becoming addicted.

Last session, this committee passed a bill, that was approved almost unanimously by the full Senate, to do exactly what the Surgeon General recommended -- require physicians to have conversations about the potential for dependency of prescribed opiates. That bill could have saved countless lives, however, it was never introduced in the Assembly for a vote, and since that time, over 2.75 million prescriptions for highly addictive opioids were potentially prescribed in our state – to our children, friends, and family members, and many without the benefit of any information of their addictive qualities or their link to heroin abuse.

A 2016 Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) study, found that nearly one in three parents of New Jersey middle school students do not believe there is a link between pain killers prescribed for things like sports injuries and wisdom tooth removal and the rising use of heroin in New Jersey.

The study also found that less than 50 percent of parents of New Jersey Middle School students feel they are knowledgeable about heroin.

As a result, half of NJ Families are receiving prescriptions without understanding their addictive qualities or link to heroin abuse.

According to the CDC, opioid pain relievers that are abused were most often obtained via prescription from physicians and since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. We also know that users of prescription drugs are 40 times more likely to use heroin.

We must begin opiate abuse prevention efforts at the first time of contact for many New Jersey children, at the doctor or dentist’s office and this will only happen Senate Bill 2156 to Require prescribers to discuss addiction risk associated with certain drugs prior to issuing prescription to minor patient becomes a law.

Thank you.