Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie's Focus on Addiction in State of the State Falls Short

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie's Focus on Addiction in State of the State Falls Short

Article excerpt

Governor Christie has long been an advocate for drug treatment programs. He has pushed for drug courts that send non-violent offenders with addictions into treatment and has spoken with eloquence about personal loss. On the very important subject of substance abuse, he is sincere.

We admire the passion of his speech to the members of the Legislature on Tuesday. Christie wants to ensure that anyone with health insurance cannot be denied an initial six months of inpatient or outpatient drug rehabilitation treatment. He wants to decrease the number of "blanket 30-day opiate" prescriptions.

"Our friends are dying," Christie said. "Our neighbors are dying. Our co-workers are dying. Our children are dying. Every day. In numbers we can no longer ignore."

It is impossible to find fault with anything the governor said about the insidiousness of drug addiction.

But there is a "but."

The governor said, "While our friends are dying, we cannot permit the worst partisans in this town to lead the discussion towards politically motivated, media-sensationalized nonsense." It was an odd sentence from someone who only weeks ago said pulling legal notices from the state's newspapers was a top priority, as was his having the ability to sign a book deal while still governor. Christie even joked about the latter in his State of the State address.

And there is another "but." Tuesday's speech was the annual State of State address, not a speech on a public health crisis. So while we commend the governor for wanting to make curbing substance abuse a priority, it is not the only priority, and there was little mention of anything else.

There was no mention of what would happen if the Affordable Care Act is repealed by Republicans. What would happen to those addicts in New Jersey if they no longer have health insurance and seek treatment? How would the state make up for lost Medicaid money? …

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