(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson, Angela McKnight, Angelica Jimenez and Shavonda Sumter to make sure opioid treatment options are offered when someone receives an antidote for an overdose was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
“Opioid antidotes have proven highly effective in preventing tragedies, but they’re not the solution to the problem,” said Conaway (D-Burlington), a practicing physician and chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. “When coming face-to-face with someone obviously suffering from an addiction, we should seize that opportunity to discuss their options for treatment as a real, life-saving solution.”
Specifically, the bill (A-2430) would require that, when a health care professional or first responder administers an opioid antidote to a person experiencing a drug overdose, the person must be provided with information concerning substance abuse treatment programs and resources, including information on the availability of opioid antidotes.
“When given the chance to confront somebody with a life-threatening addiction, we shouldn’t squander that opportunity,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will help connect individuals with the resources they need to make a truly life affirming change.”
Under the bill, if a person is admitted to a health care facility or receives treatment in the emergency department of a health care facility, a staff member designated by the health care facility, who may be a social worker, addiction counselor, or other appropriate professional, shall provide the information to the person at any time after treatment for the drug overdose is complete, but prior to the person’s discharge from the facility.
“We need to make sure we’re not just offering a temporary life-saving solution, but a permanent one,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Opioid antidotes should be administered hand-in-hand with treatment options.”
The designated staff member shall document the provision of the information in the person’s medical record, and may, in collaboration with an appropriate health care professional, additionally develop an individualized substance abuse treatment plan for the person.
“When gifted with a second chance at life, many suffering from addiction are more open to seizing that opportunity to make a real change,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “We should take full advantage of that and provide them with the resources they need to help them succeed.”
“Many people who are struggling with addiction want help, but don’t know how or where to get it,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Providing information about treatment options especially after such a health scare can help these individuals take that first important step towards recovery.”
Additionally, if the opioid antidote is administered by a first responder and the person experiencing the overdose is not subsequently transported to a health care facility, the first responder shall provide the information to the person at the time treatment for the drug overdose is complete.
The bill was approved 63-0 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.