A Letter To My Legislators About Heroin

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Cross-posted with NJ Poverty Reality, where Brian writes about social issues facing millennials. Promoted by Rosi.

I write to you all, as my New Jersey State Representatives of the 6th Legislative District, to ask for further action in our region’s fight against heroin addiction. I do realize that much has already been done in order to combat the sale and use of the drug itself, by encouraging local law enforcement agencies to work with each other and the FBI. I do also realize that New Jersey now has legislation allowing citizens to be trained in order to administer Narcan, the antidote for opiate overdoses.

All while police officers and community members are capable of reviving those who are near death, we must refrain from waving the victory flag. Narcan is simply not enough. In fact, Narcan is too late. We should be looking to prevent the need to equip our communities with overdose antidotes. We should never need to prevent hundreds of heroin-caused, near-death experiences, every single month. We need to work harder to prevent such addictions in the first place.

We can prevent heroin addictions by taking legislative action against our currently legal methods of prescribing opioid medication. Currently, opioid prescriptions are given to patients for routine procedures and ailments that result in temporary pain. Such procedures include wisdom tooth removal and other dental procedures, and other minor surgeries with less than a week of recovery time. Some ailments that result in opioid prescriptions are back injuries, falls, car accidents, and broken bones. All of the mentioned procedures or ailments do result in pain, intense at times for sure. But it is key to acknowledge that the pain is, and will be, temporary. Why is it still a best practice to prescribe something ever so known to cause dependency and addiction, for an ailment that will be gone in a few short days?

Opioid prescriptions have been the gateway to heroin addiction for thousands of New Jersey residents, and the State has plenty of it’s own data to support this notion.

I encourage the legislature to implement mandates requiring the medical profession to seek less addictive remedies to temporary pain, which will prevent the addiction to heroin, and the need for community members to revive each other from death’s door. 

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Comment (1)

  1. Bill Orr

    Using less addictive remedies for temporary pain makes sense. After dental procedures I have been given a one or two-day supply of opioids, but have not used them. It’s a larger problem for those with longer-lasting pain.

    As you know, it’s a multi-faceted issue. One need is for parents who need opioids to keep them away from their children who experiment with them and graduate upward to more dangerous drugs including heroin.

    We also need more treatment beds in NJ. An analysis by NJ Advanced Media shows “there are just 2,375 licensed residential treatment beds in New Jersey, and the number of beds per person in the Garden State pales in comparison to its nearest neighbors – New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.” It’s very difficult to get access to in-patient care, and too expensive from for-profit providers unless one has insurance.

    The war on drugs has failed. Drug courts for those who get arrested are helpful. Needle exchange facilities reduce the likelihood of serious viral illnesses and provide a space for harm reduction information and linkages to providers. More sound prevention programs as recommended by the CDC are needed.

    Thanks for your thoughtful article.

    Reply

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