Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

Kim Guadagno recognizes that addiction is a disease and as a mother herself, she is acutely aware of the concerns parents have with the threat opioids and addiction have on the well-being of our children and our communities. The national opioid epidemic threatens to tear apart New Jersey families and communities and has placed a growing strain on public resources. In New Jersey alone, opioid-related trips to emergency departments have doubled from 2005 to 2015, and in 2015 accidental drug overdoses claimed about 1,600 lives.

These issues cannot be swept under the rug. Kim recognizes that stopping these tragic deaths from occurring and easing the strain on our communities is essential if we are going to make New Jersey a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Like many diseases, addiction can often be prevented. Employing an effective prevention strategy must be our goal because it is more effective and cheaper both in terms of heartbreak and cost than a thousand trips to rehab. As governor, Kim Guadagno will marshal all available public, private and nonprofit resources to ensure that we educate the public on the risks of opioids and take positives steps to curtail an epidemic that threatens to ravage our communities like more efficient tracking and reporting of opioid prescriptions. In addition to prevention and education, it is paramount that those who need help have affordable access to facilities and all resources necessary to aid in recovery.

Over the last few years, New Jersey has been a national leader in combatting addiction and opioid abuse, and as governor, Kim Guadagno will continue to lead the nation in this area. As governor, Kim will:

1) Lead A Regional Coalition To Tackle The Opioid Epidemic
An epidemic of this size and magnitude does not abide by political boundaries and state lines. As governor, Kim Guadagno will establish a regional initiative of governors, mayors, law enforcement, private sector and non profit leaders to lead a coordinated response to the opioid crisis to better pool resources and share best practices.

2) Ensure Help Is Offered Immediately
When someone is dealing with addiction and is in crisis, every moment counts. New Jersey must ensure that everyone who needs help has access to care in their community; be that a hospital or other facilities. To ensure that those struggling get the help they need, Kim Guadagno will work to ensure that everyone gets same day admission to facilities such as recovery residences, medication assisted detox, or admission to inpatient/outpatient treatment.

3) Make Sure Insurance Is Not A Deterrent To Recovery
Kim Guadagno believes that no one should be denied the chance at recovery simply because their health insurance doesn’t or won’t cover treatment. As governor, she will support continuing efforts to work directly with New Jersey health plans to ensure that those seeking recovery have treatment that is covered.

4) Stop The Treatment Of Addiction Through The Judicial System
A prison cell is often not effective in helping addicts recover. It is imperative that New Jersey advance efforts to divert non-violent addicted persons to needed treatment programs in lieu of incarceration. As governor, Kim Guadagno will further programs that are proven to work like veteran and drug courts to ensure people get the help they need.

5) Encourage The Use Of Recovery Specialists
It is often helpful for addicted individuals struggling with recovery to work closely with someone who has gone through the recovery process themselves. These specialists can act as a tangible example of how an addict can transform their fortunes from a possible jail term to real long term drug free living. As governor, Kim will encourage hospitals and other providers to use former addicts as recovery specialists to help steer addicts arriving for treatment toward recovery.

6) Make The PMP More Efficient
The New Jersey Prescription Monitor Program was created to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, meant to be used by prescribers, pharmacies, and law enforcement agencies alike. However, the process of reporting and adjudicating claims is still clunky and time consuming. As governor, Kim will work with the legislature to make the reporting and prescribing process more efficient and reward counties for improved results.

Specifically, Kim Guadagno will work to:

  • Streamline PMP access and the process of reporting suspicious activity.
  • Create a process where suspicious activity is reported in-person or through a hotline so that law enforcement can quickly react to cut down on prescription abuse and misuse in more time efficient manner.
  • Possibly create an independent commission of people who have lost and learned from the opioid epidemic – like recovered drug users and mothers who’ve buried a child – to monitor and make recommendations to New Jersey’s PMP.

7) Advance Prevention And Education Efforts
Education is one of the most important and effective tools we have in combating the drug epidemic, and it is the key to prevention. As governor, Kim will continue to reach out to middle and high school students through programs and initiatives that seek to educate kids about opioids and the inherent dangers they pose. A proactive approach helps to give our children and our youth the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

  • Work directly with the NJSIAA and private youth sports associations and their coaches to educate athletes exposed to such drugs because of sports related injuries.
  • Empower New Jersey’s attorney general to ensure that prescription drugs are marketed and prescribed honestly. Fewer pills means fewer broken hearts and costly tragedies.
  • Equip schools and educators with the tools to detect and prevent risky behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even said kids at age 12 should be screened for behavioral issues on a yearly basis.