Christie deploys initiatives to help New Jersey battle opioid crisis

Gov. Chris Christie (from left)

Gov. Chris Christie (from left)

Gov. Chris Christie has announced new initiatives to combat opioid addiction in New Jersey — including banning the manufacture, sale, and possession of fentanyl counterfeits made by drug dealers.

The plan also calls for the expansion of the Recovery Coach Program that guides users saved from drug overdoses to treatment.

Former heroin addict Rich Wilder spent 10 years in and out of jail for crimes he committed to get money for drugs. The support he received in recovery programs has helped him stay off drugs for two years.

“I work at a job now that offers me a career. I have benefits. I have medical. I’m paying taxes, I’m being productive, and it feels good,” he said during a news conference Tuesday at the Statehouse in Trenton. “I have a lot of hope for the future, and I’ve never had that before.”

Christie said he’ll push for more availability of treatment and a greater understanding of the issue. The stigma of drug addiction holds some back from admitting they have a problem and getting the help they need, he said.

“The sin here is that it is treatable, but we’re not giving people the permission they need to seek that treatment like any other victim of a disease in our society,” said the governor.

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who now helps former inmates with drug addictions get the services they need, said Christie’s greatest legacy will be what he’s done with addiction-treatment services.

“In understanding the heroin crisis and the advent of fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent and toxic than heroin, this governor has enabled us to have the tools to confront this crisis so that we can provide the full measure of treatment necessary,” said McGreevey.

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