Our communities across New Jersey, have been facing a devastating epidemic which transcends all racial, religious, and financial demographics. An epidemic that has the ability to affect the young and old alike; to destroy families as much as individuals…this is the epidemic of addiction.
Since 1982, I have been a part of both the public and human services fields in a myriad of capacities which included being a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, the Executive Director of Prevention First, and more recently the CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health Group. During these years of service, I have come face-to-face with the disease of addiction and its debilitating grip.
For far too long substance abuse and addiction have been hidden, locked away in a shadow of shame. However, what we have learned is that this disease needs to be brought into the light not just to help those suffering, but also to remove the stigma associated with it. To accomplish this, it has to be understood that it will take a collaborative effort from community organizations, government officials, law enforcement, the judiciary, and those within healthcare to effectively provide needed treatment and most importantly, prevention.
This necessary collaboration has come closer to a reality with the renewed focus by Governor Christie. During the Governor’s “State of the State Address” he has affirmed his commitment to helping all whom are impacted, through changes in policy and direct interaction. These include, but are not limited to, increasing investments for the expansion of treatment facilities and having easier access to assistance through the ReachNJ program.
Another initiative involves mandating that doctors revisit with patients when prescribing opiates after only five days to reassess pain management therapy instead of the customary thirty days that is now in place. This preventative procedural change, coupled with the other initiatives, will greatly aid in stemming addiction before its onset can take a hold.
The Governor is helping to shine that much needed light on this preventable and treatable disease and I look forward to working alongside his administration in their efforts. With all communities working in unison, we can offer the help and better coordination which is so greatly needed.
Mary Pat Angelini, CEO
Preferred Behavioral Health Group