New Jersey Legislators Discuss Response to Opioid Crisis



Contact: Matt Birchenough, 201-916-1032,


New Jersey Legislators Discuss Response to Opioid Crisis

FLORHAM PARK — New Jersey state and federal legislators provided residents an update on the ongoing efforts to solve the opioid crisis at the breakfast to address the legislative response to New Jersey’s opioid epidemic held Monday morning by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

“Solving the opioid crisis ravaging New Jersey will require a comprehensive effort from all areas of society, including government and, specifically, legislative representatives,” said Partnership for a Drug-Free Executive Director Angelo Valente. “It’s important that New Jersey residents are informed on potential new legislation to help resolve this epidemic and for legislators to hear from their constituents on how they can help stem the tide of this crisis.”

Speakers at the event included Bianca Madzarova, projects specialist from United States Senator Cory Booker’s office; State Senator Anthony R. Bucco (R –Morris); Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R – Bergen); Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R – Morris); Morris County Sheriff James Gannon; and Maura Collinsgru of New Jersey Citizen Action. The event was co-sponsored by Morris County Prevention Is Key and the Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey hosted a breakfast to address the legislative response to New Jersey’s opioid epidemic Monday morning in Florham Park. From left, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon; Bianca Madzarova, projects specialist for the office of United States Senator Cory Booker; Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Executive Director Angelo Valente; Barbara Kauffman, Director of Prevention Services at Morris County Prevention is Key; Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco; and Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney.

The panel discussed potential new legislation to address the crisis, such as an expanded drug court program and involuntary commitments for people who suffer an overdose and are revived with naloxone, as well as the progress of a national bill to spread the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program to hospitals throughout the country. However, the event also provided a forum for the 80-plus people in attendance to discuss the issue with legislators.

“It’s days like these that are critical to this fight,” Assemblyman Bucco said. “You know the issue. You know what to do. As legislators it’s our job to provide the funding and do the best we can do to help solve this crisis.”

More than 2,100 New Jersey residents died from a drug overdose during the first nine months of 2018. A vast majority of those deaths involved either prescription opioids or heroin.  

In February 2017, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a new prescribing law, limiting initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply; requiring prescribers to discuss with the patient or the patient’s parent or guardian the addictive nature of opioids and possible alternatives; and mandating that physicians, physician assistants, dentists and optometrists earn one continuing education credit on topics that include responsible prescribing practices, alternatives to opioids for managing pain or the risks and signs of opioid abuse, addiction and diversion.

Since then, the legislature has taken more steps to address the crisis, including passing a law requiring all high schools to carry naloxone.

“Everyone has been touched by this epidemic,” Rooney said. “You know someone who has gone through this.”


Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 174 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.