Drop in New Jersey fatal drug overdoses prompt uptick in efforts to control problem

David Madden
January 19, 2020 - 4:30 am

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey reported a slight reduction in the number of opioid-related deaths in 2019. But state officials from the governor on down vow to step up their efforts to lower those numbers even further. 

A 3% drop, from 3,163 to 3,021 fatalities, may be significant. In fact, it reverses a four-year trend when deaths steadily increased. But no one in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is doing a lot of bragging here. 

“We are encouraged to see the numbers leveling off, slightly turning down but no one’s declaring victory. We have much more work to do,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson told KYW Newsradio.

For her part, her department has been getting Narcan out to more people, which will spread out to include police departments and public libraries. 

And look for a more public campaign to promote a 24/7 program for addiction support through a toll-free number, (844) REACH-NJ. 

“We are sort of all in on the solutions here,” Johnson added. “So we are just really investing in and trying to build community partnerships. But so much of this is about making sure that people feel comfortable and safe getting help. And so we want to create the environment that makes it as easy as possible to get help when you need it.”

A half-dozen other agencies, from the Attorney General and Health to Workforce Development, are expanding their programs or starting new ones.