The divisions in society might act like this is not the case, but when part of a group is suffering from an addiction, the whole group is suffering along with them. Anyone who has walked down the streets of any New Jersey city can attest to this: People line the sidewalks of the more run-down districts, babbling incoherently, asking for money, or just barely moving at all.
These are addicts, and their addiction is their problem. But it is also your problem, and the problem of the rich, and especially the problem of the politicians who can do something about it.
But New Jersey has not been totally motionless in the face of the issue. As new information and statistics about what is going on with the health of the state have come to light, lawmakers have introduced and passed legislation to respond to it—though not always at perfect speeds.
What Drugs are Being Abused in New Jersey?
We mentioned how you can tell there is a drug abuse problem in the state just by walking down the street of a major city. Well, if you don’t live in or near a major city, you might be surprised to hear that drug abuse is massively on the rise. There are two significant reasons for that.
To begin with, the most popular drug by a huge margin in heroin. About 42% of people who get checked into drug rehabilitation programs and receive treatment from detox centers deal with heroin addiction. In comparison, the second most popular drug is cocaine at 13%.
Heroin is, simply put, harder to get outside of a major city. If you live in a smaller city, town, or rural area, then you are much more likely to see people abusing alcohol.
The second thing that shapes New Jersey’s drug problem is what kind of drug heroin is. The main ingredient to heroin in fentanyl, a potent opioid drug. That means that heroin is usually the last resort of people with opioid addiction, which start with opioid painkillers.
These painkillers are not prescribed as much outside the major cities where pharmaceutical companies do most of their lobbying to get people prescribed the drugs.
What is New Jersey Doing About These Problems?
The main piece of legislation passed in response to the growing heroin problem is the series of bills known as the Legislative Package to Expand Harm Reduction Efforts. The governor has stated that this is a great step in fighting New Jersey’s share of the nationwide opioid crisis.
What do these bills do, precisely? The most important thing they do is require that all insurance companies cover medical expenses related to addiction recovery. One of the most difficult parts of dealing with the opioid crisis for every state, including New Jersey, is that it was so easy for an insurance company to write off the expenses as not their responsibility.
The logic was that because the addiction was the “fault” of the person who had the addiction, the insurance company was not contractually obligated to pay for the care of the condition.
Mandating that insurance companies pay for these medical procedures means that more people will end up getting the care they need without worrying about it leaving them destitute.
The second thing that these bills do is provide funds and direction for hospitals to receive the medical care to help people deal with addictions. For the longest time, the only part of addiction that a hospital would reliably be equipped with is the tools to deal with an overdose. And even then, that is only because overdoses are similar to heart attacks and strokes.
With these bills, hospitals will be supplied with the medical equipment and medications they need to actually treat people in the midst of their addiction, rather than just the worst moment of it. This will help make sure that fewer people die of addiction by dealing with it earlier on.
Have These Bills Been Effective?
These bills are extremely new, so gathering data on them is difficult. However, hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated to the projects they lay out. Thirty different drug addiction treatment programs have come into existence as a result, and they have all been used.
Think about that: While New Jersey had drug addiction treatment programs before, they did not have anything that was publicly funded and easily available to everyone. All of these programs have just come into existence, and they have all seen thousands of people for treatment.
That means that everyone who has been aided by those thirty programs might not have gotten that aid without them. Many of those evidence-based programs are the first of their kind in the state, meaning that not only are the people using those programs in dire need of them, but there are likely people in other parts of the state who could make use of them if they were closer.
The numbers for the total effectiveness of these programs are not in yet. But they have already had a life changing effect on almost everyone who has used them.
How are These Programs Run?
One of the most common mistakes in American government is letting businesses be the operating hands of the government. Businesses are self-interested and profit driven. These qualities make for good fast-food chains and electronics manufacturers, but bad healthcare.
Fortunately, the programs outlined by these bills are managed by New Jersey’s Department of Health and Human Services. That means they are focused on families and employ many people with experience in dealing with addiction in their leadership.
New Jersey has an addiction epidemic that is reshaping its society. But its society is adapting to fight it. And we are doing our part at Epiphany Wellness by offering the same evidence-based treatments that have become a priority for lawmakers to extend to people looking for treatment.
If you are one of those people, remember that help is out there, and more accessible than ever.