tapinto.net: U.S. Senators Host Local Forum with U.S. Surgeon General on Heroin and Opioid Crisis in New Jersey


August 9, 2016 at 2:14 AM

LIVINGSTON, NJ – With heroin deaths in New Jersey up 160 percent since 2010 and more than 1,200 overdose-related deaths last year alone, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker hosted U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Monday at Saint Barnabas Medical Center for a forum on tackling the heroin and opioid-addiction crisis plaguing the nation.

Local doctors, treatment providers and advocates participated in the discussion, which also featured a demonstration on administering the overdose drug naloxone. This was the last stop on the Surgeon General's "Turn the Tide Rx" Tour.

During Monday’s forum, which was held in cooperation with the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, Murthy emphasized the importance of conversations between doctors and patients and proactive education for those involved. He also said he intends to send a letter to all of the nation’s doctors, urging them to educate themselves and talk to their patients about the risks of opiate addiction stemming from prescription painkillers.

Elaine Pozycki, chair of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals whose collective mission is to reduce the demand for illicit drugs in New Jerseysaid she was pleased and encouraged that Murthy emphasized education as a key to combating the opiate epidemic.

“The Surgeon General’s remarks drive home the importance of the State Assembly passing, A 3424, legislation that requires doctors and other prescribers to discuss the potential risks of dependency before writing a prescription for an opiate-based painkiller as well as to review alternative treatments, when appropriate,” said Pozycki. “I call on the Assembly to pass this legislation without further delay.”

In summary, the forum focused on improving the prescribing practices of doctors to reduce the supply of misused opioids while continuing to treat pain safely and effectively.

In 2015, according to professionals, more than 28,000 New Jerseyans sought treatment for heroin or opioid abuse, which significantly outpaces previous years’ figures. The heroin death rate in Camden, Ocean, Cape May, Union, and Middlesex Counties significantly exceeds the number of treatment beds available per 100,000 people.