Two US Senators Cory Booker and Bon Menendez teamed up with Congressman Bill Pascrell to organize a conference at Paterson’s St. Joseph’s Hospital. The main purpose of the summit was to find a solution to the ever growing opiate addiction problem. Their main concern is that there are increasing cases of over-prescription of drugs by medical practitioners. They are trying to avoid a situation where people who get addicted to opiates in New Jersey end up in heroin addiction. The scourge has not only affected people in New Jersey but all over the nation and so, the elected leaders see an urgent need to try and curb it with every opportunity.
They pointed to the fact that nearly two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioid medications as the reason they want an urgent solution. Menendez said that there is no community that has not been affected by this crisis. He says that even though there is hope through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, there is a lot that needs to be done to solve the problem.
The legislators said that in order to achieve better results; the nation needs to steer away from the usual disease-based system to one that is focused on prevention. They believe that it does not make a lot of sense to continue focusing on tackling the problems after they have already occurred.
They lauded the St. Joe’s Alternatives to Opiates programs for their efforts in finding alternative ways to fight the epidemic that is threatening to ruin the lives of many people, especially the young. ALTO is a multidisciplinary system that is based on a model that has not been seen anywhere before. They strongly recommend that the nation should move away from using opiates to treat chronic pain and instead find alternatives.
In his comments, Pascrell said ALTO is going to have a major effect on law enforcement. He said that there is a huge burden that law enforcement has to shoulder as a result of drug abuse. Because they are the only ones who are tasked with dealing with individuals who have been addicted, they often find themselves having to work extra hard just to make the situation better. It is believed that if the communities can focus on prevention; law enforcement would save a lot of money and time.
Booker said that prevention is the fiscally-conservative thing that needs to be implemented fast because of the many advantages associated with it. He urged partners in the medical and law-enforcement field to accept the fact that the way the whole situation about opiates has been handled in the past is all wrong and that everything has to change. He argues that people cannot continue doing the same things and expect different results.
After the conference, they went ahead to hold closed-door meetings with other senators and government officials. The main agenda of the meeting was to find the alternatives that everyone is pushing for and it is understood that prevention, rather than treatment, is what they have agreed to focus on.