Opioid epidemic

Foreclosure
Bob Hennelly for WBGO

Years after the Great Recession there is one age group  still having a really tough time getting traction.  Across the country there are over five million 16 to 24 year olds who are neither in school nor working. This idleness, experts warn, puts these young people at an increased risk for opioid addiction. For this first edition of WBGO NEWS INVESTIGATES, Bob Hennelly went to Cumberland County where over 1 in 5 of young people find themselves idle and opioid addiction is taking a terrible toll.

Governor Christie's Task Force on Drug Abuse Control has release its report, making 40 recommendations to combat opioid epidemic.

Christie says many of the recommendations were included in the $200 million initiatives he announced last month. And he's directing is staff to develop plans to implement all of them before he leaves office in January.  

He's directing New Jersey's Department of Health to immediately revise guidelines so first responders can carry four milligrams of Narcan.

Governor Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie is detailing his plan to shift $200 million from New Jersey's budget for new initiatives to combat the opioid crisis.

Christie says 25 programs will be implemented or expanded.

A $40 million pilot program will reward treatment providers whose clients stay in treatment, are employed, and have stable housing that helps with their recovery.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says a public-private partnership will help combat an opioid epidemic that's killing thousands of people across the country.

Christie says leaders of 17 pharmaceutical companies and government agencies intend to work together to fast-track development of new non-opioid medications for pain.

Dr. Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health. He's excited about the effort but says it'll be difficult.

Christie signs the legislation at the Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation intended to curb the opioid addiction epidemic.

The law limits initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and mandates that state-regulated health insurers cover six-months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.

Christie says he's not sure how much that will cost.

"Because you don't know how many people are going to take advantage of this and utilization is going to drive a lot regarding the costs. But the fact is whatever the cost is of this it's certainly less than 1600 lives a year."

Senator Joe Vitale
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to require high school students to be screened for the risk of substance abuse.

Senate Health Committee chairman Joe Vitale says his bill would have students in 9th through 12th grades answer questions about drug use as part of their annual health assessments.