As a part of the nationwide war against opiate addiction, New Jersey is finally headed in the right direction. The state of New Jersey just recently adopted an extensive law. The measures that this law embodies have long been encouraged and recommended by addiction experts, families that have been affected and by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey. Altogether, New Jersey now has one of the robust opiate laws out of all the states in the U.S.
The target of this new law is the opioid painkillers that have been getting over prescribed throughout the state, which is where addiction and the opiate epidemic originates from. All those in a position to prescribe opioid painkillers will now mandatorily have to receive ongoing training to remain up-to-date about the latest best-prescribing practices. Furthermore, they will not be able to prescribe more than five opioid painkiller pills to a single patient.
Under this new law, a doctor will also have to inform a patient about the possible alternatives to taking opioid medication and the risks of getting addicted to them before a prescription is given. Any patient who seems to require an opioid medication will have to be informed about those. This new law serves to benefit the parents of children and teenagers, ensuring that their children do not become victims of the epidemic.
Of course, this legislation would not have been possible without the initiative and support of the current Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, Senator Joseph F. Vitale and all those who co-sponsored it. Even though New Jersey has taken the next step towards curbing the epidemic, there is still plenty more that needs to be done. A solid foundation has been built, but this new law still needs to be effectively implemented and education needs to be turned up a notch from now on.
One major obstacle that will need to be overcome is the fact that there are over 100,000 state residents in New Jersey who are addicted to heroin and prescription opiates. In merely the past decade, overdoses have resulted in over 5,000 deaths in the state. Moreover, more than 20 people who have overdosed receive Narcan, the opiate antidote, each day.
The Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners will have to speed up their efforts to educate and inform all prescribers in the state about the new requirements. New Jersey already has a prescription monitoring database, which is mandatory in order to prevent doctor shopping. However, prescribers need to be educated and monitored to ensure that they check the database. Vivek Murthy, the current U.S. Surgeon General, envisions all health care providers like doctors and nurses as the “the first line of defense” in combating addiction, and with this new law, New Jersey could help fulfill that vision.
Of course, both the medical community and the public need to be educated about the epidemic on a much larger scale. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that up-to-date information is circulated through broad and targeted education efforts. It has also become necessary that the anti-drug curriculum in schools is updated in accordance. New Jersey now has the means of cracking down the opiate epidemic, the respective authorities simply need to proceed with implementation.