During his last State of the State Address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke a great deal about the pervasive heroin and opioid crisis plaguing the Garden State. In addition to outlining the tragic and far-reaching scope of the problem in communities all across New Jersey, he pledged to commit the full weight of his office to solving the crisis in his eighth and final year as the state’s chief executive. Last week, New Jersey residents saw the first manifestation of this commitment: a new television ad featuring the governor discussing New Jersey’s addiction epidemic and corresponding options for those who need treatment.
The ad was part of a series for the telephone hotline 1-844-REACH-NJ which connects vulnerable New Jerseyeans to treatment resources in their area. Christie said he wanted to give people a single place where they can learn about addiction resources available in the state. Like the rest of the country, many New Jersey residents have faced a serious uphill battle when endeavoring to get addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one. The new ads are set to appear in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia television stations, a cluster of areas whose fates have become intertwined by inter-state drug trafficking.
New Jersey has suffered some of the highest rates of opioid overdose since the national epidemic began. The state’s opioid crisis killed a record 918 residents in 2015. Deaths are expected to increase due to the arrival of the incredibly potent painkiller fentanyl. Christie’s decision to highlight drug addiction in his last year in office comes as new data showed New Jersey’s heroin death rate was more than two times more the skyrocketing nationwide rate in 2015. He was instrumental in establishing the state’s drug court program, which allows eligible offenders to go to treatment rather than jail.