TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Kristin Corrado that would permanently designate October 6 as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” passed out of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“The opioid crisis is a national epidemic,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “It knows no age, gender or socioeconomic. This scourge has effected and infected our culture. We need to continue to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction, of where there are places and centers for treatment and fight for funding for all of the above.”
The joint resolution, SJR-35, would designate Oct 6 as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” in order to raise awareness about the dangers of, and the link between, opioid abuse and heroin addiction and to educate health care providers, community leaders, State lawmakers and members of the public about the opioid abuse epidemic and its effects throughout the State and across the country.
The joint resolution would request the Governor to issue an annual proclamation recognizing October 6 as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” in New Jersey and call upon public officials and the citizens of this State to observe the day with appropriate activities and programs.
In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pain medication pills. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the abuse of prescription painkillers is a “growing, deadly epidemic.” Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled, with nearly three-fourths of these deaths attributable to prescription painkillers.
The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the United States parallels a nearly 300 percent increase in the sale of opioid pain medications, such as Oxycodone and Percocet, since 1999.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that many people who become addicted to opioids go on to abuse heroin, a semi-synthetic opioid drug. Of the 21.5 million Americans that had a substance abuse disorder in 2014, 1.9 million abused opioid pain medication and 586,000 had a substance abuse disorder involving heroin.
The abuse of prescription painkillers in New Jersey has led to a resurgence in the availability of cheap heroin in the State’s urban, suburban and rural areas. In 2014, according to data released by the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Law and Public Safety, there were 741 heroin related overdose deaths in New Jersey, twice as many as in 2010. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey’s per capita rate of 8.3 heroin related deaths per 100,000 is more than triple the national rate.
In 2014, 28,332 people entered New Jersey drug addiction treatment centers for heroin or opioid pill addictions, representing nearly half the overall total of 64,766 people who received substance abuse treatment in the State that year. Heroin overdose has eclipsed homicide, suicide, accidents, and HIV/AIDS as one of the leading causes of death in the State.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and the Department of Human Services, has designated October 6, 2018 as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” in New Jersey in order to raise awareness about the dangers of, and the link between, opioid abuse and heroin addiction and to educate health care providers, community leaders, State lawmakers, and members of the public about the opioid abuse epidemic and its effects throughout the State and across the country.
The joint resolution passed out of committee by a vote of 8-0 and advances to the full Senate for further consideration.