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Murphy details plans for $100 million he’s seeking to fight N.J. opioid epidemic

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at the Rescue Mission of Trenton about his budget requests  to fight the opioid epidemic Tuesday. (Governor’s Office)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at the Rescue Mission of Trenton about his budget requests to fight the opioid epidemic Tuesday. (Governor’s Office)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed state budget includes $100 million to combat the state’s opioid epidemic. More than half of that — $56 million — would help fund drug prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

“We know that coordinated approaches that bring together treatment including access to medication-assisted treatment and peer-based recovery coaching can be highly effective,” said Murphy during a news conference Tuesday in Trenton to outline details of his funding request.

He said $31 million would be devoted to dealing with social risk factors that can lead to relapse.

“We would provide funding for supportive housing to ensure individuals in recovery have a safe place to live and for job training and workforce development so they can get back on their own feet for the long-term,” Murphy said. “We want these residents to be a part of our economic revitalization.”

The remaining $13 million would fund an integrated data system to ensure that patients’ needs are addressed.

State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said the administration will consider all strategies that are considered effective.

“The funding is not about any single program or any particular department,” he said. “Rather, we are taking an organized, coordinated, data-drive multiagency approach to eradicate an epidemic that took the lives of 2,200 victims in 2016.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie committed $200 million to fighting the opioid crisis last year, but Murphy said far less than that was actually spent.

“I think of the $200 million … only $90 million of that, as I recall, went out the door,” he said.

Murphy also referred obliquely to his predecessor in saying that he won’t spend state funds on TV ads featuring the governor. Christie appeared in such ads.

“Sixty-year-old guys talking to young kids about addiction and the perils of addiction does not work,” he said. “I did hear some pretty cool ideas, social media and otherwise, where there’s peer-to-peer opportunities. That’s something potentially that I’d be open minded to.”

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