Drug crisis worsening
In 2019, more than 3,000 people died of drug overdoses in New Jersey. This tragic total actually represented a decrease from the previous year and perhaps a positive sign of progress being made in the fight against the opioid crisis.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged New Jersey and the nation, overdose deaths have increased once again with the state on pace to experience roughly 3,200 in 2020.
Some progress has been made in the fight against the epidemic, but the opioid crisis is still inflicting pain and tragedy on far too many New Jersey residents and Americans around the country. Obstacles to prevention, treatment and recovery created by the pandemic have only made the issue worse in 2020.
In an effort to bring further awareness to this crisis, thousands of New Jersey residents participated in Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day early this month. As part of the statewide initiative, citizens shared information about the potential for dependency on prescribed opioids and their link to heroin use. This year’s event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took place almost exclusively in a virtual format on social media, organization websites and webinars.
Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day was a project of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris.
We have all been impacted by the opioid crisis in some way. The good news is that each of us can help to prevent opioid abuse in our communities.
Backs Booker for Senate
I’m grateful to Sen. Cory Booker for taking the urgent and necessary steps to protect American citizens from future zoonotic disease pandemics with his new bill, the Preventing Future Pandemics Act, S. 4749.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities, infecting millions, killing over 200,000 Americans to date, and triggering a disastrous economic downturn — all of which will be felt for years to come. Scientists have possibly linked the COVID-19 pandemic to live wildlife trade — specifically to a market in Wuhan, China, that sold at least 75 species of wild animals where an early theory thought the public was first exposed to the novel coronavirus. Live wild animals, including turtles, snakes, rats, hedgehogs, foxes, wolf cubs, monkeys and civets were being sold onsite for human consumption. These markets are filthy, crowded environments where animals are slaughtered on site, creating the perfect environment for zoonotic diseases to mutate, propagate and spread to humans.
I applaud Booker for working across the aisle and championing a ban on the import, export and sale of certain live wildlife for the primary purpose of human consumption in the United States. His bipartisan bill sets the standard here at home and establishes the U.S. as a global leader to end the commercial trade in live terrestrial wildlife and to strengthen anti-wildlife trafficking initiatives. Booker has championed such an important and life-saving piece of legislation in the race to protect everyone from causing another disastrous pandemic like the one now devastating New Jersey, America and the entire world.