Addiction should be treated as a disease, not a criminal offense with lengthy jail sentences. With 137,000 people addicted in New Jersey, many families are struggling to figure out what treatments will work and what services are available. I propose a state-wide program to streamline education, support, and treatment. And since every dollar spent on drug treatment saves New Jersey more than $10 in long-term costs, I propose that we offer all treatment that have been proven effective: residential care, ambulatory care, and Medication Assisted Therapy.
What are opioids?
- Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin as well as prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl.
- Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
How do people get addicted to opioids?
- Addiction is a primary, chronic, and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pursuing a high or the relief of pain that is provided by the drug, despite repeated negative consequences.
- In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills.
- Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.
How many people die from opioid misuse?
- In 2010 there were 843 drug related deaths in New Jersey. Five years later, the number had risen to 1,587.
- Last year in the United States, more people died from drug overdoses than in car accidents.
How do you treat opioid addiction?
There are many effective treatments for a substance use disorder including opioids.
- Outpatient includes individual, group and family therapy delivered up to six hours per week.
- Intensive Outpatient care includes 9-12 hours per week of group, individual, and family care.
- Ambulatory Care
- Residential care
- Short Term lengths of stay vary from 7 to 28 days depending on need.
- Long Term is less intensive than short term, and often focuses on developing life and social skills.
- Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT)
- Medication Assisted therapy is a combination of behavioral or talk therapy with the use of addiction medications such as Suboxone, Methadone, and Vivitrol.
The availability of treatment services is not keeping up with the growing need. In 2010, prior to the height of the opioid crisis, significant numbers of residents reported that they would have sought treatment if it were available to them, but it was not.
- Hunterdon County: 36% of the residents who would seek treatment were unable to access it
- Somerset: 42%
- Warren county: 30%