BY STEVE ADUBATO only in new jersey
STEVE ADUBATO, PHD. is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/ WNET (PBS) and NJTV (PBS) who regularly appears on the Today Show,
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State taking positive steps against addiction.
Last November, the state took an
important step by revising the New
Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program, which includes an online database
where pharmacies are required to report
prescriptions for any controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Under the revisions, physicians are required to consult
the database in many situations before
prescribing what is known as a Schedule
II CDS—such as oxycodone—for pain.
Doctors must check the database before
initial prescriptions for patients. And
pharmacists are required to check the database before filling prescriptions if they
have a reasonable suspicion of abuse.
Hospitals also are making changes.
St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center,
for example, launched the Alternatives to Opiates Program in January.
Patients who would previously have
been treated in the emergency room
with opioids, now receive alternative
non-opioid medications, trigger-point
injections, nitrous oxide or ultrasound-
guided nerve blocks. As a result, treat-
ment with opioids in the ER has been
cut by almost ;; percent.
Elsewhere, the RWJBarnabas Health
Institute for Prevention launched an
Opioid Overdose Recovery Program in
Monmouth and Ocean counties under a
grant from the state, in cooperation with
law enforcement, CentraState Healthcare System and Hackensack Meridian
Health. The two-year pilot program, the
first of its kind, links ER patients who
have been treated for an opioid overdose to recovery support and treatment
services. The initiative is expanding to
Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and other
counties. Camden and Passaic counties
have a similar, state-funded program.
Each county now has a regional
substance-abuse prevention coalition
overseen by the Division of Mental
Health and Addiction Services. These
coalitions are working with real estate
agents to caution clients to lock up their
medicine cabinets when they have open
houses. They are also working with
funeral homes to ensure prescriptions of
the deceased are disposed of properly.
The Veterans Administration has
also made strides, thanks to new protocols launched in ;;;;. According to
Dr. David J. Shulkin, undersecretary for
health for the VA and former president
of Morristown Medical Center, the
agency’s health care providers now
work in integrated teams and share a
patient database that includes medications. The VA also uses alternatives to
pharmaceuticals for pain management,
such as meditation, companion animals
and exercise. As a result, overall use of
drugs such as Percocet and oxycodone
has been reduced by ;; percent. Today,
only ; percent of New Jersey veterans
are prescribed painkillers, compared
with the national average of ;; percent.
Parents have a role, too. They need to
be vigilant when their kids are undergoing medical or dental procedures that
require pain relief. That means asking
about pain-management options.
Remember, no one is immune to the
opioid epidemic, and everyone can fight
back against this crisis.
;;;;;; ;;; ;;;; ;;;, this column
reported the disturbing fact that New
Jersey has triple the national rate of
heroin overdoses, and that heroin and
opiate use are growing at an alarming rate. The crisis continues—but
numerous developments attest to New
Jersey’s growing attention to this issue,
which a;ects citizens in every zip code.
Recently, policy makers, physicians
and families gathered at a forum at
Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to explore treatment options
for opioid addiction. Attendees such
as U. S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H.
Murthy and New Jersey senators Cory
Booker and Bob Menendez all stressed
that the public and health care providers must view opioid addiction as a
disease rather than a moral failure.
“Our state is facing one of the most
challenging public health crises in recent memory,” said Menendez. “Nearly
every community has been impacted;
too many lives have been lost and too
many families torn apart.”