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Stopping Dual Drug Abuse Epidemics [AUDIO]

As prescription drug abuse and heroin use continue to shoot through the roof, the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is out with a series of recommendations about how to address the problems.

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Celina Gray, acting executive director of the Council, told members of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee that a special task force held hearings all over the state, and testimony was taken from government and law enforcement officials as well as from parents whose children died from drug overdoses.

“Their recommendations include doing a better job of helping family members of young people hooked on these drugs find and access treatment,” she said, “and helping treatment professionals fully understand the benefits and risks of medication assist and treatment, in order to provide the best possible options for successful recovery.”

Another recommendation is to review insurance practices that impede access to treatment.

Gray said we also need to “consider the construction of new substance abuse facilities, and possible barriers to the creation of these facilities.”

In addition, she said the task force recommends launching a public awareness campaign which will also address stigma, because it’s important to remember “addiction is a disease affecting real people, and to take a moment to urge that we stop objectifying them by calling them addicts; they’re people living and struggling with a disease.”

The report also recommends “updating school curricula, school-based peer-to-peer programs, prescription drug abuse recognition and reporting protocols for educators.”

Gray said expanding the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program is also recommended, along with continuing education for health care professionals who prescribe painkillers.

“The increased use of heroin and prescription drugs” she said, “are now the number-one cause of accidental death in the nation, surpassing car accidents for the very first time.”

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