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NJ Joins Fight Against Opioids

Karissa Rosen | Staff Writer

Drug overdose is the number one leading cause of accidental deaths in New Jersey. Like many other states, New Jersey, nicknamed “The Medicine Chest of the World” is struggling with opioid dependence and it’s lurking around every corner. 

Governor Phil Murphy claimed to commit about $100 million to address New Jersey’s opioid epidemic. New Jersey, along with other states, has filed lawsuits against the manufacturer of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma. 

Despite all the time, effort and money spent on trying to prevent this epidemic, there an average of seven to nine New Jersey residents who die of an overdose daily.

To put it in perspective, the Garden State loses the equivalent of a small town to opioid addiction each year. Pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of opioids, often face the blame due to the availability of misleading information about addictive drugs. 

A table full of fentanyl and other designer drugs seized by CBP sit on display at the International Mail Facility in Chicago, Illinois, November 28, 2017, as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is given a tour of CBP operations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Kris Grogan

   A majority of the time, taking that first pill is a choice made by underlying mental health issues, but other times, getting hooked starts with a doctor. Just about half of the patients that obtain a prescription for painkillers and take them as prescribed end up addicted.Painkillers become too expensive, which is when people turn to cheaper highs like heroin.

    Whether an addiction starts in the streets or in a professional office, the damage, addictive nature and general problems remain the same. Not only have opioids killed our family, friends and peers, but they have also caused a major financial crisis in the economy as well. 

Drug treatment center admission has risen by a staggering 700% in the last decade. Many people dealing with the disease of addiction seek help, but not everyone gets it. If one has no insurance, then the odds of that person getting treatment are slim to none.

No insurance most likely means no job, no job means no money and no money means no rehabilitation programs. For the lucky ones who do have insurance, treatment and rehabilitation resources still aren’t guaranteed. 

If someone has been to two rehabilitation centers for treatment in the last two months, there is a good chance that insurance won’t cover a third time around if needed. If insurance decides to cover a third `program in a short amount of time, they might give the patient the boot halfway through their program, leaving them high and dry. 

There are different levels of care in rehabilitation programs and the level of care patients receive coverage for is at the discretion of insurance personnel. 

If one’s insurance thinks that they don’t need a “step-down” program to the lowest level of care like a PHP (partial hospitalization program) or sober living (temporary sober housing), then they simply won’t cover it despite how the patient feels. 

More times than not, a patient who gets denied or kicked out of a program will go right back to the drugs they wanted to get clean from in the first place.

All hope isn’t lost if one cannot go to a rehab program. There are medications like Suboxone and Zubsolv which are opioid blockers. But again, without any insurance these medications are very expensive to maintain.

There are free and welcoming support groups all around the state of New Jersey called Narcotics Anonymous (NA). People who are fighting this disease can attend NA meetings to find comfort, advice, friendship, guidance, support, and all around help.

The opioid epidemic has many contributing factors and is a vicious cycle that ends in one of two ways. So, the question is, what are we, the people of New Jersey, going to do in order to truly help our loved ones and fellow peers?

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