New Jersey Launches Initiative to Combat Opioid Crisis and Save Lives

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By Qayam Masumi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: In a significant step towards battling the ongoing opioid crisis, Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman has officially unveiled, a new online platform aimed at providing anonymous and cost-free access to life-saving naloxone. The initiative, a part of the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive efforts, seeks to ensure that naloxone, a medication capable of rapidly reversing opioid overdoses, is readily available to residents across the state.

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The Naloxone365 initiative, as it’s aptly named, grants individuals aged 14 and above the opportunity to obtain naloxone at participating pharmacies, all without the need to divulge their names or reasons. With no prescription required, each visit to these pharmacies grants access to a two-dose naloxone nasal spray kit. The inception of this initiative comes in response to Governor Murphy’s call to action, initially presented during his State of the State address in January.

Since its announcement, the Human Services department has collaborated closely with the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy to invite pharmacies to join the program. At present, a total of 610 pharmacies are participating, contributing to the distribution of an impressive 40,687 naloxone kits. Human Services remains committed to expanding the network of participating pharmacies and continuing the initiative’s positive impact.

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Unlike previous initiatives that held occasional naloxone giveaways, the Naloxone365 program ensures access to the medication year-round, emphasizing the crucial nature of immediate intervention. Commissioner Adelman underscores the importance of this accessibility: “Naloxone is a safe, easy to use, fast-acting and effective nasal spray medication to reverse an overdose and save someone’s life. Making naloxone accessible and available for free and anonymously in pharmacies eliminates the most common barriers to the life-saving medication, helps reduce stigma, and ultimately may encourage people to seek treatment and long-term recovery.”

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Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin commends Governor Murphy’s dedication to expanding naloxone access, recognizing the critical role it plays in preventing opioid overdoses. The collaborative nature of the initiative is also praised, highlighting the contributions of various partners and stakeholders in making Naloxone365 a reality.

In addition to the pharmacy-based program, the Murphy Administration introduced Naloxone Direct last year. This initiative allows eligible agencies, including first responder agencies, harm reduction agencies, county prosecutor’s offices, libraries, and shelters, to request direct shipments of naloxone as needed.

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Human Services’ multi-faceted approach has led to the distribution of approximately 270,000 two-dose naloxone kits throughout the state since 2018. Furthermore, the administration emphasizes that offering naloxone serves as a crucial bridge towards recovery, connecting individuals with addiction to essential treatment resources.

Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who oversees Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, emphasizes the broader impact of naloxone availability: “Naloxone is not just an opportunity to save lives – it’s an opportunity to give more people struggling with addiction the chance to treat the effects substance use disorder has on their lives.” Mielke underscores the significance of recovery and urges individuals to reach out for assistance.

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For those seeking help, Commissioner Adelman urges them to contact the 24/7 ReachNJ addiction helpline at 1-844-ReachNJ (732-2465), where they can connect with trained addiction counselors and receive immediate support, regardless of their insurance status. As New Jersey continues its fight against the opioid epidemic, initiatives like Naloxone365 provide hope and tangible solutions for individuals and families affected by addiction.

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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

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