The New Jersey Statewide Opiate Task Force was created to help curb the epidemic of opiate abuse and to educate the public on opiate addiction. This week they finally released their report. The report called for major reforms and officials say some of the initiatives could begin as early as May 2014. The report has been two years in the making and was made up of research compiled by a 16 member committee that included law enforcement leaders, veteran members of the state's rehabilitation community and former Gov. James McGreevey.
The main approach of the report and the task force is to make a dent in the prescription painkiller wave that has spread across New Jersey. New Jersey is looking into how they can help stop this problem using education as well as rehabilitation and treatment facilities for long-term care. Many opiate addicts are unable to find treatment in New Jersey and many are having to go out of states for help, which comes with a hefty price tag.
The report asked legislators to mandate that all pharmacies and doctors in New Jersey take part in the state's prescription monitoring program. The monitoring program logs every patient's prescription information which helps to stop doctor shopping. The report also called for reforms to insurance policies to help those who are unable to afford professional treatment. It goes on to talk about the construction of additional rehabilitation facilities, especially designed for high school and college aged students (which is in the demographic of the hardest hit and the hardest to treat ages).
Educating the public on the opiate abuse issue is also a must, and needs to start at a young age. New Jersey has been one of the most hard hit due to the opiate epidemic, but we are not the only ones affected. Every town in the United States is feeling the wrath of opiates whether they be painkillers, heroin, or both. Building new treatment centers and providing places for people to go receive help is outstanding and will certainly help.
I hope that the facilities they are building will have programs for those with little or no insurance. Many people have to pay large amounts of money to cover rehab bills that are not covered by their insurance. The money issue keeps thousands of people a year from going into treatment.
I would also like to see programs that include confidentiality in the workplace when it comes to substance abuse. Many people can not take a leave of absence from their job to get treatment because they will lose it. If they lose their job, they lose their insurance and the means it rehab costs comes out of their pockets.
I am glad this report was issued and I hope the ideas they have will be put into action as soon as possible. New Jersey can use all the help it can get to curb the opiate abuse. Education should be our number one priority as well as providing treatment to those who can not afford it. As more action is taken to combat this issue, New Jersey will become a safer and cleaner state to live in.