TRENTON – Governor Chris Christie on Nov. 30 announced the awarding of $670,700 in contracts to regional addiction prevention coalitions throughout the state to raise awareness about the overprescribing of opioid pain relievers to young adults, particularly young athletes.
The total annual funding for the project is $407,350 for the first year, and $263,350 for years two through four.
“I have seen too many young people, especially young athletes, whose lives began a downward spiral into addiction, and often death, soon after being treated for a legitimate injury,” Governor Chris Christie said. “Painkillers are often overprescribed and then stopped abruptly, leaving people with a dependency they can’t break. Research shows three in four high school heroin users started with prescription opioids, and we have to do everything we can to stop it.”
The Department of Health recently issued a request for letters of interest from the 17 regional prevention coalitions established by Governor Christie in 2012. Some of the coalitions address the addiction issues in more than one county, so all 21 counties are served by them.
Each coalition receiving the funding will each receive $19,400 for the first year and $12,540 for the subsequent years.
The coalitions, funded by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), will partner in its “NJAssessRx” project funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The program is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of sharing medications and to work with pharmaceutical and medical communities to educate them on the risks of overprescribing to young athletes. The project also aims to raise community awareness and bring prescription drug abuse prevention activities and educational programs to schools, communities, parents, prescribers, and their patients.
In addition, SAMHSA will track reductions in opioid overdoses and the incorporation of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data into needs assessments and strategic plans as indicators of the program’s success.
Overdose deaths in the United States Overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2014, from 8,407 to 33,091 annually, and in New Jersey, in 2015, the death rate from opioid overdoses was 18.1 per 100,000 people, or 1,587 deaths, according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the 17 regional substance abuse prevention coalitions were funded by DMHAS with $3.65 million in grants from the SAMHSA.
The goal of the coalitions is to engage community stakeholders to address prevention priorities aimed: reducing the use of illegal substances – especially opioids – among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, reducing underage drinking, and reducing prescription medication misuse.