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Event Recap: NJTV’s Second Drug Addiction Crisis Forum Focuses on Opioid-Addiction Legislation

(L-R) : Larry Downs Esq.; Asm. Chris A. Brown; Asm. Herb Conaway Jr.; Sen. Joseph Vitale and Thomas McLellan. Standing (L-R): Lt. Juan Colon; NJTV's David Cruz and Andrew Kolodny M.D.

(L-R) : Larry Downs Esq.; Asm. Chris A. Brown; Asm. Herb Conaway Jr.; Sen. Joseph Vitale and Thomas McLellan. Standing (L-R): Lt. Juan Colon; NJTV’s David Cruz and Andrew Kolodny M.D.

NJTV, in partnership with the New Jersey Prevention Network(NJPN), hosted the second Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis forum in which legislators and experts reviewed opioid-addiction legislation and discussed the role of legislative action in the fight against drug overdose in New Jersey. The event was held last Friday as part of NJPN’s 16th Annual Addiction Conference in Atlantic City.

The panel discussion, moderated by NJTV News correspondent David Cruz and livestreamed on NJTV’s NJDrugCrisis.org website, focused on policies currently working and a new bill to require doctor-patient talks about opioids dangers. Under the bill, patients and when applicable, parents, would be notified of the dangers of certain prescription drugs and the health provider would be required to obtain a signed acknowledgement that addiction risk had been discussed with the patient. This topic generated animated discussion of varying opinions topic, as reported byNJTV News.

Thomas McLellan, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Treatment Research Institute and former Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Obama administration, opened the event with an overview of the state of the substance use problem in the country and policies needed for different parts of the overall problem.

Conversation continues after the forum with participants and Sen. Joe Vitale

Conversation continues after the forum with participants and Sen. Joe Vitale

The panel also included Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-19)chairman of the Senate Health and Senior Services Committee; Asm. Herb Conaway Jr.(D-7), chairman of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee; Asm. Chris A. Brown (R-2), Assistant Republican Leader and Larry Downs Esq., CEO, Medical Society of New Jersey. In addition, Andrew Kolodny M.D.,Phoenix House chief medical officer and executive director and co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing along with Lt. Juan Colon, State Police – ROIC Unit participated to provide their expertise on the topic.

Close to 500 professional representing prevention and education facilities, treatment providers, law enforcement; educators, military personnel coalitions and others attended the forum.

NJTV News correspondent David Cruz presides over panel discussion before hundreds of forum attendees

NJTV News correspondent David Cruz presides over panel discussion before hundreds of forum attendees

Prior to the forum, NJTV News Correspondent Briana Vannozzi interviewed several professionals about their views on the substance abuse crisis in NJ for web and on-air content

The forum is part of a year-long community engagement initiative for the network, funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of NJ. The initiative also includes a new portal dedicated to news and stories about the topic (www.njdrugcrisis.org) as well as resources for addiction, prevention, treatment and recovery. NJTV News Executive Producer Phil Alongi and Communications Director Deb Falk and Community Engagement Liaison Selma Betancourt, MS were also in attendance.  NJTV News’ Matt Rosen filmed the livestream coverage.

NJTV’s next Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis forum will be next month in Middlesex County and will focus on the topics of prevention and education.