No one can say New Jersey hasn’t been without serious problems in the recent past. From hurricanes to political scandals, the Garden State is a mess. But these things only scratch the surface. There is a more deep-seated issue: drug addiction, especially addiction to painkillers and heroin.
For about a decade, painkillers have been making their way up route 95 from Florida to New Jersey. Opiate addiction created thousands of new addicts who are now turning to heroin to feed their cravings. There are hundreds of N.J. addiction treatment centers, but are there enough to treat its ever-growing population of drug addicts?
NJ Addiction Treatment
New Jersey has recognized the problem of drug addiction for some time now, and it’s taken steps toward solving it. Last year, it passed a bill that allowed addicts to receive the medication Narcan (naloxone), which can help treat overdoses (a major cause of death in Jersey.) However, overdoses are the effect, not the cause of the problem. They only exist for one reason: addiction. To truly overcome overdoses and drug-related deaths requires NJ addiction treatment.
NJ Addiction Treatment as a Mental Health Issue
This past Thursday, the state’s legislative assembly passed a bill that recognizes addiction as a mental health issue (as opposed to a criminal issue.) Supported by parents who have lost their sons and daughters to this terrible disease, the bill equates addiction to other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Said one mother of a fallen addict: “Saying that it’s an addict’s decision to use or not is akin to saying that it’s a schizophrenic’s decision to hear or not hear voices.”
It’s true that addicts lack the power of choice when it comes to drugs. That’s why they can’t be trusted to make decisions about what’s best for them: In the end, drugs outweigh any other concern. So, like someone who’s gone psychotic from schizophrenia, addicts sometimes have to be committed against their will. This new bill would allow judges to determine whether a drug-charged criminal is in need of NJ addiction treatment and send them there.
Supporting NJ Addiction Treatment & Recovery
The bill might be “tough love,” but NJ also gives addicts strength and support through community efforts. As part of national Recovery Month, the beachfront town of Seaside Heights staged the “HOPE Sheds Light” walk-a-thon to raise money and awareness for addiction treatment. The HOPE (Heroin, Opiates & Prescription drug Education) program was also founded by the parents of an overdosed addict. The group hoped to both provide funding for more treatment solutions, and to let addicts know that there are treatment solutions. There is recovery available through NJ addiction treatment programs.