Dual-Prescribing of Naloxone and Opioid Prescriptions Is Critical During the Pandemic

Last month, New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced that New Jersey physicians, dentists and other healthcare practitioners who prescribe opioids for the management of chronic pain must also prescribe the opioid antidote naloxone to certain at-risk patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) recognizes and appreciates this important decision. Co-prescribing these prescriptions will give individuals and their families access to the life-saving antidote to reverse an opioid overdose. 

We recognize that COVID-19 has presented many new challenges for people struggling with addiction.  Social distancing has brought about increased isolation and anxiety that might increase rates of drug abuse while also limiting the ability for those with addiction to seek treatment and other support systems. New Jersey saw 789 suspected fatal overdoses between January 1 and March 31, an increase of more than 100 such deaths during the same time period in 2019.

Naloxone has been available to save thousands of lives of people who have experienced an opioid overdose, but it can't save anyone if it's not there when an overdose occurs. People who suffer from substance use disorder have been hesitant to seek medical treatment in hospitals due to the pandemic. This past March, 20 percent of individuals who were administered naloxone refused to be transported to the hospital. This underscores the need for at-home access to opioid antidotes is right now. 

Co-prescribing to patients has been widely recognized as an effective way to reduce overdose deaths, and New Jersey was taking steps to move in that direction prior to COVID-19. 

If you are interested in learning more about prescribing opioids in the time of COVID-19, be sure to register for our upcoming Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Webinar on August 20th which will address this topic.  This webinar is part of series of webinars PDFNJ is hosting with our sponsors, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, (HBCBSNJ). 

Additionally, if you or anyone you know is suffering with substance use disorder is seeking assistance with mental health or addiction services, a list of available resources is available online at NJ CARES. Also, please visit the PDFNJ website to learn more about all of our free prevention initiatives.

Please continue to stay safe and well.

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