Chris Christie Declares Opioid Addiction A Public Health Crisis

By McCarton Ackerman 01/18/17

Christie has created a drug task force to focus on addiction treatment, drug prevention and prescription restrictions.

Chris Christie speaking to a crowd.

On Tuesday, January 17, during a small ceremony at a recovery house in Newark, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order declaring the opioid epidemic a public health crisis, according to

According to a press release, the executive order will create a task force comprised of New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino and a handful of other state officials. The task force will help "develop and execute a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to combat the drug-abuse epidemic by working with all areas of state government, in addition to local, federal, and private entities, as well as the Facing Addiction Task Force."

State officials have been tasked with creating a new drug prevention curriculum for schools, resolving treatment roadblocks, and placing restrictions on initial opioid prescriptions.  

After signing the executive order, Christie spoke with a group of former and recovering drug users at Integrity House, where he made his announcement. "There's going to be lots of different pieces to try and solve this problem. No one around this table is to be forgotten," said the governor.

The executive order comes on the heels of Christie's State of State address earlier this month, which focused on the opioid epidemic and addiction treatment. According to New Jersey 101.5, Christie claimed that far too often, insurance companies deny coverage for drug treatment and he objected to middle class families being left at the mercy of insurers as to whether they can help their loved ones.

“Whether your child lives or dies should not be the subject of a denial letter from an insurance company,” said Christie during his speech. “Rather than support and compassion and coverage, they’re too often met by questioning and red tape and denials by insurers who happily take their premiums at the same time.”

The governor vowed there would be “no more pre-approvals. No more medical necessity reviews prior to admission by an insurance company bureaucrat. No more denials that can cost lives.” He finished his proposal by declaring that “treatment first, hope first, denials last” is what the people of New Jersey deserve. His plan was met with support by several legislative leaders. 

Christie also proposed limiting initial prescriptions for opioid painkillers to a five-day supply. reported that the plan was met with backlash from several doctors throughout the state, who called the policy both “cruel” to patients and an “intrusion” on the practice of medicine.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.