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There were 1,253 deaths related to drug overdose in New Jersey in 2014.

This means that there were 14 individuals dying of overdose for every 1,000 deaths that occurred in the state. This is after making the necessary adjustments for age. However, many drug treatment officials in New Jersey are quite optimistic with the figures because it shows a very modest, almost statistically insignificant improvement from 2013 where New Jersey registered 1,294 for a 3 percent improvement overall.

It would seem that Governor Chris Christie’s signing of the Overdose Prevention Act in 2013 has had its impact in this modest improvement. The legislation provided for the legal protection of drug overdose victims as well as individuals who seek professional addiction treatment especially in emergency situations based on the legal doctrine of the Good Samaritan Law. The Act has effectively opened the effective and efficient management of drug overdose cases through expanded access to naloxone, the undisputed king of opioid overdose antidotes.

One of the major issues that many drug rehabilitation and treatment facilities lament is the fact that only a few ever take advantage of their improved and unparalleled services. Many of these treatment centers are well equipped with the best in drug rehab facilities and amenities that it would simply be more like enjoying a holiday vacation rather than having a drug treatment program. Their staff are continuously updated with the latest knowledge and the most relevant skills needed to make sure that everyone who comes seeking professional drug addiction center help can be assured of getting it. The problem is that these resources are underutilized. Unfortunately, this is not only a problem for New Jersey. Elsewhere all over the world, drug rehabilitation facilities are not optimized, not fully used by its intended recipients. Why? It has something to do with the criminalization of drug use.

While using drugs is not inherently illegal, it denotes possession of an illicit drug which is, unfortunately, punishable by incarceration and fines in most jurisdictions. When someone gets admitted to a drug addiction treatment facility, it is an indirect admission of drug use; hence, drug possession. And the law says that drug possession is a crime. Knowing this, many individuals do not want to risk incarceration and having a criminal record on their individual personal histories so they would rather not seek addiction treatment.

This is what New Jersey and other US states are carefully considering. By integrating the concept of the Good Samaritan doctrine into a legal framework, New Jersey hopes to open the doors to more drug dependents to actively seek professional drug rehabilitation services in order to help turn their lives around. The law shall not penalize individuals who are seeking professional help as well as those who admit themselves to emergency room departments provided they commit to finishing a required drug treatment and rehabilitation program.

It is the hope of New Jersey and its many drug rehab facilities that the law will help curb the number of drug overdose related deaths by increasing the number of drug dependents treated in these addiction treatment centers.

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