Governor Murphy’s announcement that 97 fewer New Jerseyans died from a preventable overdose shows New Jersey still has a long way to go to adequately respond to the overdose crisis. Last year Americans saw a 5% decrease in overdose deaths for the first time since the 1990’s. While New Jersey’s overdose deaths decreased by 3% and is in line with national averages, we are lagging behind compared to states that are leading on this issue. For example, Pennsylvania saw an 18% decrease in overdose deaths last year, and states like Vermont now boast the shortest wait times to receive access to care in the country because of their innovative hub & spoke model In 2018, New Jersey reported 3,118 overdose deaths, while preliminary data shows that in 2019, 3,021 New Jerseyans lost their lives to a preventable overdose.
While this is incredibly good news for the nearly 100 people who survived this year, it’s not incredibly good news for most of our communities. Governor Murphy said ‘there’s no celebration,’ and he’s right about that. Drug users, family members, and communities who are bearing the brunt of the crisis have a vision for how to get to the numbers we need to be seeing. We want to see all of our family members, friends, and neighbors survive this crisis.