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Jenna Mellor.

Opioid crisis group lauds Murphy for state of the state

More action needed, activists say

By Nikita Biryukov, January 16 2020 10:13 am

The New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition lauded Gov. Phil Murphy for pointing to the state’s progress in combating the opioid progress, though they called for further steps on the issue.

“Providing New Jerseyans who use drugs easier access to treatment is a good start, but New Jersey must also expand access to fentanyl test strips, naloxone, safer using supplies, and overdose prevention education,” said Caitlin O’Neill, a founding member of the NJHRC. “These are the gold standard tools to end overdose deaths, and this is a critical time for New Jersey to expand access to them.”

New Jersey saw 3,021 opioid-related deaths in 2019, a roughly 3% decrease from the record high seen in 2018.

Primarily, the group urged Murphy and lawmakers to expand programs providing substance users with anti-opioid drugs like naloxone.

“Just like we’re making sure police officers and librarians have naloxone, we need to make sure that New Jersey’s first of the first responders, people who use drugs, are getting all of the naloxone they need and want,” said Jenna Mellor, another founding member of the NJHRC. “New Jersey can be a leader in implementing evidence-based, dignified alternatives to the War on Drugs. And by listening to and valuing the leadership of [people who use drugs], New Jersey can not only reduce fatal overdoses today but help prevent the next public health crisis before it kills thousands of our neighbors and loved ones.”

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