New Jersey continues to be a national leader when it comes to opioid addiction — in the painful and widespread impact on the state and its citizens, and in the public and private response to the disease.
Former Gov. Chris Christie brought significant attention to the crisis and Gov. Phil Murphy has fine-tuned the response, with new investments to support data collection, community based treatment providers, and addressing the underlying causes of addiction.
But the opioid-related deaths continue to climb, in part because of powerful new drug cocktails; more than 2,000 state residents have already died of drug-related issues this year, double the mortality rate of 2016.
In the final panel of NJ Spotlight’s three-event series on the opioid epidemic in New Jersey, we focused on the clinical and policy dimensions of long-term recovery. We explored how the state — with input from behavioral health providers, public officials and other experts — can build a sustainable system to promote health and expand support services to help families and communities overcome the impact of addiction.
Mariel S. Hufnagel, Executive Director, The Ammon Foundation, a philanthropic endeavor of Ammon Labs
Robert J. Budsock, MS, LCADC, President & CEO, Integrity House
Petros Levounis, MD, MA, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry,
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Chief of Service, University Hospital, Newark
Eric McIntire, Assistant Director Recovery Support Services, RWJBarnabas
Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery
Ken Pecoraro, LCSW, LCADC, CCS, Director of Addiction and Co-Occuring Services,
CPC Behavioral Healthcare
Senator Joseph F. Vitale, (D-Middlesex), Chair, Senate Health, Human Services &
Senior Citizens Committee, Vice-Chair, Labor Committee, New Jersey Senate
Lilo H. Stainton, Healthcare Reporter, NJ Spotlight