WASHINGTON (CBS) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie promised to put the opioid epidemic front-and-center in his final year in office. Now, it appears he’ll lead the fight on a national scale, as President Trump’s point man.
Governor Christie has been picked to lead what the White House is referring to as its ‘SWAT team’ on drug addiction. According to the Washington Post, the governor has been working with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner for several weeks and will be officially introduced as running the commission in the next few days.
“He’s done a great deal around the opioid problem here in New Jersey,” said Roseanne Scotti, the state director for the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance.
“We have broad access to naloxone, or Narcan, now, which is the opioid overdose antidote,” Scotti said. “It’s available in most of our pharmacies at this point, non-profits like needle exchange programs, community groups, the state has put some money behind that. The governor was the first governor to fund needle exchange programs in New Jersey.”
Across the country, fatal opioid overdoses — from heroin and pain meds like OxyContin and Percocet — have increased every year since 1999. Christie should be able to stay on as governor, despite the mammoth task of turning the tide.
“Encouraging medication-assisted treatment, encouraging access to naloxone,” Scotti said. “And I think overall encouraging a public health approach to this issue and not a criminal justice approach which is where Governor Christie has really focused his energy.”