Page 8

MDA-208e_MDAdvisor_SPRING_17_FINAL_PRINTER_Layout 1 4/9/17 10:32 PM Page 6

of a comprehensive strategy that Governor Christie outlined in his State of the State message to create the most aggressive response in the country to the opioid crisis. Available Resources Healthcare providers are key to prevention and treatment of drug abuse. As we have seen the epidemic explode across the state, it is likely that patients treated every day in healthcare settings are affected either directly or indirectly through the impact on individuals, family and friends, therefore linking patients to care is critical. Hospital staff and emergency room physicians are rethinking their emergency protocols for opioid prescriptions. Governor Christie and I recently visited St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson to applaud its Alternatives to Opioids Program (ALTO). After its first year, the ALTO program has reduced opioid prescriptions in the emergency department by nearly 60 percent while still providing patients with needed pain relief. Its success in using nonaddictive drugs to treat migraines, broken hips, kidney stones and 9 other painful conditions has garnered national attention. Everyone in the healthcare community can help fight the opioid epidemic by informing our residents about helpful resources. To ensure all residents are able to connect to care, the Governor also launched a “Help Is Within Reach” public awareness campaign and a 24/7 helpline at 1-844-ReachNJ for instant drug addiction–related help. Through this campaign, the state is working to ensure that those affected by addiction can find the types of resources they need for recovery. Campaign materials are available at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association (AMA) offer tools that can be helpful in educating patients and evaluating which patients are at risk of addiction. The CDC offers a checklist for primary care providers treating adults (18+) with chronic pain, which is available on the CDC website at The AMA Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse recommends that physicians register and use state prescription drug monitoring programs and educate themselves on managing pain and promoting safe and responsible opioid prescribing.10 New Jersey has a Prescription Monitoring Program, through the State Division of Consumer Affairs, that collects prescription data on controlled dangerous substances (CDS) and human growth hormone (HGH) dispensed in outpatient settings in New Jersey and by out-of-state pharmacies dispensing into New Jersey. To find more information on how to register, visit the website of NJ Consumer Affairs at



All providers are critical partners in fighting the battle against addiction and in reducing stigma. Patients and families rely on their physicians and other medical providers to be trusted resources for information and counseling. Please partner with the State of New Jersey to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids and to share information with patients on how to get help. Only by working together will we be able to protect our residents from the devastating disease of addiction. Cathleen D. Bennett is the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health. 1

Christie, C. (2017, January 17). Executive order No. 219.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, July 7 [updated]). Today’s heroin epidemic. Vital Signs.


New Jersey Office of the State Medical Examiner. (2016, December 6). Drug related deaths, 2015.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, December 15 [updated]). Prescription opioids and heroin. -use-risk-factor-heroin-use.


Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016, March 8). Mental and substance use disorders.


Weiss, A., Barrett, M. L., Heslin, K. C., & Stocks, C. (2016, December). Trends in emergency department visits involving mental and substance use disorders, 2006–2013. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project statistical brief #216.


New Jersey Hospital Association. (2016, October 18). Report: Mental health and substance use accounts for nearly half of growth in hospital ER volume.


Bennett, C. (2017, February 3 [revised]). Notice of rescheduling of certificate of need call for applications for adult acute care psychiatric beds pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:33-4.1(a)(2). re_psych_beds.pdf.


Layton, M. (2017, March 2). U.S. attorney warns of growing opioid epidemic.


American Medical Association. (n.d.). Prescription drug misuse, overdose & death.

MDAdvisor Spring 2017  
MDAdvisor Spring 2017