McKnight bill to increase awareness of drug and alcohol abuse now a law

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A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) aiming to increase awareness of the dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse became a law last week. Assemblywomen Angela McKnight

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The law designates one night in November of each year – either November 19th or the Thursday before Thanksgiving if the 19th falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday – as a “Night of Conversation” about drug and alcohol addiction.

On that night, government, the private sector, the education system, religious communities and the media will focus their various communication resources on drug and alcohol addiction, and families will be encouraged to talk about drug addiction and alcoholism.

The new law (AJR-58) comes at a time when New Jersey’s heroin overdose death rate is three times the national average, a statistic McKnight said warrants a statewide conversation about drug use.

“Drug addiction is a deadly disease that rips apart families and destroys communities,” McKnight  said in a statement.

“When one considers the physical, emotional and economic toll that addiction takes on people across the state, it’s evident that we all need to sit down and talk about how to prevent it.”

The goal of the evening is to create awareness and ensure that New Jersey residents know where to find reliable information and access to care.

“Addiction doesn’t know a zip code or an income tax bracket. Anyone can fall victim to this,” McKnight added.

“In addition to promoting substance abuse prevention, the ‘Night of Conversation’ can present a platform for people to discuss how to help a friend or family member or even seek help for themselves.”

The bill received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature before being signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has not always seen eye to eye with McKnight, last Monday.