Vitale Statement on Governor's State of the State Address and Addiction Crisis in New Jersey


     TRENTON – Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale, who has spearheaded the passage of numerous bills to tackle the heroin epidemic and continues to lead the effort through education, prevention, treatment and recovery, issued the following statement after Governor Christie's state of the state address:

     "The opioid epidemic and the disease of addiction continue to devastate New Jersey residents from all walks of life. The nation and our state are in the grips of a harrowing crisis, and I thank Governor Christie for his commitment to addressing the problem within our state.

     "Working through a bipartisan effort, we have made progress in establishing recovery coach programs, expanding sober living home access, and expanding access to care across the state.

     "Our efforts have led to successfully implementing and expanding the Prescription Monitoring Program (S1998) in New Jersey to help identify and deter or prevent drug abuse and diversion. We developed the Project Medicine Drop program (S2369), providing New Jersey residents with the opportunity to safely and securely dispose of their unused medications, including prescription painkillers which often serve as a gateway to heroin addiction.

     "We've expanded access to the lifesaving antidote to an overdose, and enacted the landmark Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act (S2378) which provides immunity to individuals reporting an overdose or administering an overdose reversal drug. And we established a permanent sterile syringe access program, a program that promotes safety at a critical access point for care.

     "But we have already directed four-year colleges to establish substance abuse recovery housing programs in a law (S2377) signed in 2015. And legislation requiring a review of Core Curriculum Content Standards to ensure substance abuse instruction is provided to public school students using the most current, evidence-based standards and practices was signed into law (S372) in September. It is time to hit the ground running and make sure that these laws are implemented across New Jersey.

     "All of these programs and initiatives save lives. I will continue to expand upon education, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in New Jersey to fight the disease of addiction. I'm looking forward to work in partnership with the governor as we have for the past three years."