An opioid awareness bill sponsored by eight state Assembly Democrats, including Jersey City’s Raj Mukherji (D-33), cleared the legislature’s lower house earlier today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Bill A-1875 would require the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, part of theÂ state Department of Human Services, to establish and oversee a public awareness campaign that would be known as the â€œHeroin and Opioid Drug Public Education (HOPE) Initiative.â€
â€œOpioid use disorder is destroying communities throughout the state,â€ Mukherji said in a statement. â€œNew Jerseyâ€™s effort to put a stop to it must be aggressive and multi-faceted.â€
â€œCurbing the prescription drug and heroin epidemic in this state will require a comprehensive legislative approach, including an addiction awareness and education campaign to help restore hope in our communities,â€ added Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver.
â€œNot one group or area can lay claim to having been hit the hardest by this kind of addiction. Many families in New Jersey have been affected by addiction of this kind. Itâ€™s time to encourage individuals and families to seek the help they desperately need to live drug-free.”
The HOPE Initiative would provide for the coordinated and widespread public dissemination of individual case stories and other generalized information that is designed to include (but not limited to) the following:
1.) Identify the pathways that can lead to opioid abuse and heroin use, and the reasons opioid abuse may evolve into heroin use.
2.) Show the new face of heroin and opioid addiction, and rebut the commonly accepted myths and stereotypes about heroin users and opioid abusers.
3.) Condemn and stigmatize the abuse and diversion of prescription opioid drugs, while recognizing the legitimate use of the same opioid drugs as medication.
4.) Describe the effects and warning signs of heroin use and opioid abuse, so as to better enable members of the public to determine when help is needed.
The bill, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now awaits Senate consideration.
Assembly members Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Joseph Lagana (D-38), Joe Danielsen (D-17), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Vincent Mazzeo (D-2) and Joann Downey (D-11) also sponsored the bill.
Gov. Chris Christie (R) has recently made drug rehabilitation one of the focal points of his administration and West New York Mayor Felix Roque and other town officials unveiled a drug prevention program earlier today.