Governor Christie Fully Focuses on Battling the Opioid Epidemic in his Final State of the State Address
In the first 15 minutes of his one hour and 15 minute final State of the State address, Governor Chris Christie spoke of economic progress in producing jobs and reducing unemployment during his tenure; pension reform and the upcoming $1.9 billion payment to be made to the pension; tax cuts New Jerseyans will see this year and next, including getting rid of the estate tax in 2018 and a special exemption for veterans; and provided a summary of how the five central priorities of his 2016 State of the State were achieved in full or in part. The remaining hour was spent focused on the “crisis of addiction” and how he plans to battle the opioid epidemic.
The Governor told the heartbreaking story of Pam Garozzo who was present at the vigil held on December 21st to honor her son’s 10.5 months of sobriety, only to lose him a few days later to overdose. Gov. Christie stated strongly that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, adding that it is a disease that can be treated. He spoke at length about the costs of addiction – in our schools, our medical community, the criminal justice system and the economy at large – and noted that it is only by the grace of God that a family has not been touched by this epidemic and that could change at any moment.
Citing escalating state and national statistics, Gov. Christie said there is nothing more important he could do in his last year as Governor than to fight this battle and he encouraged those present and viewing, “Let us start together today.”
“Governor Christie’s diverse strategies are inspiring and exactly what is needed to address these complicated issues that are leading to tragedy in thousands of lives throughout our state and nation,” Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA. “While these initiatives are greatly appreciated, much more needs to be done as addictions, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders, are highly prevalent throughout New Jersey. Substance use disorders cannot be treated in a vacuum. Integrated care is essential and it has been proven to be much more effective than treating either illness in a silo.”
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