Pallone Unveils Comprehensive Legislation to Address Substance Abuse Crisis
Bill Commits $500 Million Annually to Help Patients in All Stages of Prescription Opioid & Heroin Dependence
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), who serves as the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled comprehensive legislation to address the substance abuse crisis plaguing far too many communities in New Jersey and across the country. Pallone held a press conference at the Damon House in New Brunswick to discuss his bill, the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act, which will commit $500 million annually to help individuals at all stages of crisis, specifically those suffering from prescription opioid and heroin dependence.
“This epidemic affects families from all walks of life and unfortunately, has become personal for too many New Jersey families that have been impacted by addiction or lost loved ones to an overdose,” said Pallone. “My comprehensive bill will tackle the substance abuse crisis we are now facing by providing significant funding for critical treatment and recovery programs. New resources will help to reach those who have fallen through the cracks before it is too late and also provide support to those on a path to recovery.”
The Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act has four core elements:
1) Preventing the onset of substance abuse,
2) Responding to those already in crisis,
3) Ensuring access to treatment for all patients, and
4) Supporting life-long recovery from addiction
The legislation sets guidelines requiring those prescribing opioids to undergo critical training; helps to improve a provider’s ability to diagnose addiction; provides funding for state and local governments and community organizations to train first responders, physicians, pharmacists, and the public to respond quickly and effectively to prevent overdoses; and makes naloxone, a safe and effective antidote to overdoses, more affordable.
Pallone noted that the bill also expands evidence-based treatment, including access to medication-assisted treatment; funds syringe exchange programs that often offer a path to treatment and decrease the spread of infectious disease; provides critical resources to communities that recognize a new heroin or opioid outbreak in order to combat addiction swiftly; and creates a new grant program to fund the work done by recovery schools and collegiate recovery programs like the Raymond J. Lesniak Recovery School and the Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance program (ADAP) at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“These initiatives are critical for saving lives, and we are grateful to Congressman Pallone for his leadership in helping to ensure that evidence-based treatment and ongoing recovery support are readily available for everyone in need,” said Debra Wentz, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies.
“We appreciate Congressman Pallone's support and applaud his call for additional resources for both national and statewide efforts to address the epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin dependence,” said Lisa Laitman, director of the Rutgers Alcohol and Drug Assistance Program. “His particular focus in New Jersey on providing adolescents and young adult access to evidenced-based treatment and recovery support is much needed in light of the toll this epidemic has taken on our young people in New Jersey.”