New Jersey’s attorney general will create a new office aimed at combating the opioid crisis, with “opioid response teams” of police and recovery specialists and a database to share opioid statistics among state agencies, among other initiatives.
More than 2,200 people died of overdoses in New Jersey in 2016, most from opioids. Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced the new office at a press conference in Newark Thursday morning.
The office — the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Response and Enforcement Strategies, or NJ CARES — will institute round-the-clock opioid response teams that police or paramedics can call to help people in addiction. The teams will include health providers, substance abuse recovery and mental health advocates, police and medics, the attorney general’s office said in a press release, and will provide people in addiction with “support, information and referrals to treatment programs.” An $850,000 federal grant will support the program.
Other initiatives include the database for state agencies, also partially funded by a $600,000 federal grant, which will collect information on opioid-related arrests, Narcan administration, drug overdoses and pill mills, in order to “provide a clearer picture of the opioid epidemic ranging from street drug activities to prescribing abuse.” The attorney general’s office is also planning to ramp up its prescription monitoring program and will launch a website for the public, nj.gov/oag/njcares, to provide weekly updates on the crisis.
Sharon M. Joyce, the attorney general’s acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs and a 38-year veteran of the office, will head the new initiative.