The growing opioid epidemic in New Jersey is a serious public health threat to our residents. It is destroying lives and devastating families and communities. In 2016, New Jersey lost 1,901 of our neighbors to the opioid epidemic. And since 2014, New Jersey’s death rate from opioid overdoses has increased by 16.4 percent and overdose rates have only increased since the beginning of the pandemic.
As a former federal prosecutor, I know first-hand the toll that addiction can take on our communities. That’s why we need to address this public health crisis in the most comprehensive way possible. I worked with Republicans and Democrats in the House to increase funding for the State and Local Opioid Response Grant program by $500 million, which helps local organizations in our community like the Center for Prevention and Counseling in Sussex County.
While we’ve made strides to address the addiction crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in overdose rates across the country, including here in New Jersey. I’ve fought in Congress to increase funding for training and prevention programs that will help healthcare providers, social workers, and mental health professionals assist friends and neighbors struggling during COVID. I’ve also fought to ensure that non-opioid treatments for pain are adequately reimbursed by Medicare.
Ending the opioid epidemic and fighting the abuse of prescription drugs will require leaders from government, law enforcement, medicine, and our communities to work together to find solutions. In Congress, I will continue to do everything that I can to find meaningful solutions to this crisis.