By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – As the United States continues to battle the opioid epidemic, Governor Phil Murphy announced on December 22 the appointment of ten public members to the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Advisory Council. The work of this Council will support ongoing efforts by New Jersey to address the opioid epidemic and help its residents affected by this crisis.
“The opioid epidemic in New Jersey has destabilized families and deprived many children of a nurturing and safe environment in which to grow,” said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer.
The opioid crisis has taken over 14,000 lives in New Jersey in the past five years, and in just 2020, more than 91,799 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. Unfortunately, it is evident and ever-present that the epidemic continues to spread throughout New Jersey. It is imperative that the state increases services to help save lives and reduce the number of opioid users.
Governor Murphy established the Council under Executive Order No. 305. This order provides recommendations for using the funds that New Jersey receives as a result of nationwide settlement agreements to improve the opioid epidemic. The primary responsibility of the Council includes making recommendations for the Murphy Administration to align to the terms of the settlement regarding the use of the State’s share of all settlement funds. Furthermore, the Council will review submissions from members of the public, including treatment providers, advocates, residents with substance use disorder, and social service organizations.
As a part of the agreements, several opioid manufacturers and distributors agreed to pay $600 million in settlement funds over the next two decades to New Jersey and other eligible counties and municipalities.
“These settlement funds are the result of a once in a generation effort to hold accountable drug manufacturers for the devastation they have caused, and we are considering the disbursement of the funds with equal gravity,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman.
The funding must go towards goals such as treating opioid use disorder, addressing the needs of justice-involved individuals, offering harm reduction services, preventing overdose deaths, supporting relevant research and training, and other similar ways of combating the opioid epidemic.
The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the Attorney General, and the Commissioners of the Departments of Health and Children and Families will chair the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Advisory Council. The Council’s membership works to reflect New Jersey’s diversity and incorporate perspectives from individuals who have experienced, in some way, the opioid epidemic. Many of these members have endured substance use disorders, as well as their families, and are public health and policy experts.
“As we work to combat the opioid epidemic, it is essential that our approach continues to be informed by individuals and communities who have experienced it firsthand, whether that be personally or
professionally,” said Governor Murphy. I am proud to appoint members to this Advisory Council today and I look forward to their valuable and critical insight.”
The following are the appointed public members for the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Advisory Council: Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong, Brenda N. Azanedo, Robert Detore, Jenna Mellor, Solomon Middleton-Williams, Dr. Amesika Nyaku, Shirla Simpson, Brian Thompson, Morgan Thompson, and Dr. Debra Wentz.
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