The opioid epidemic which has taken a stranglehold over much of the United States, destroyed families, and ravaged communities, seems to have taken a hit in New Jersey from efforts to combat it, according to recently released statistics.
Governor Murphy said Thursday morning that New Jersey had 3,021 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2019. While that number is still staggering, it is still a 3% drop from 2018. For almost a decade, New Jersey has seen yearly double-digit increases in the number of opioid-related deaths, making the 2019 decrease significant and welcome news.
New Jersey has taken multiple steps to tackle the overdose epidemic, including handing out free Naloxone which is administered to overdosed patients, often saving their lives, and ramping up law enforcement interventions to cut down the available supply of illicit opioids on the black market.
The state also has plans to provide millions of dollars to county jails to help treat drug-addicted inmates and has thrown its weight behind moves to create community-wide efforts to combat the use of drugs.
It is not clear whether the number of people abusing drugs has declined or if the availability of Naloxone has saved the lives of so many overdosed patients that the number of deaths declined. Either way, the drop in the number of opioid-related deaths is a positive sign which can be built upon to make further progress against the drug epidemic strangling the state.