NJ Gov. Chris Christie Announces Vivitrol Access For Inmates

By McCarton Ackerman 10/04/16

Vivitrol will be offered to Ocean County jail inmates both during and after their incarceration.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Announces Vivitrol Access For Inmates

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to offer forward-thinking measures in addressing drug addiction throughout New Jersey. The governor announced last week that inmates in the Ocean County jail will be offered Vivitrol to give them a fighting chance at recovery.

Vivitrol is a drug which halts the feeling of euphoria from using opiates by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain associated with it. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, the current chairman of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation that helps prisoners stay focused on recovery, said during a press conference that Vivitrol will be offered to inmates both during and after their incarceration.

In addition, Christie announced that the state’s Recovery Coach program will expand to six more counties, according to the Asbury Park Press. The initiative uses former addicts to encourage recently revived overdose victims to enter a detox or rehab program.

Police and first responders in the state already receive a discount when purchasing naloxone syringes.

“The sin here is that [addiction] is treatable, but we are not giving people permission to seek that treatment like any other victim of a disease in our society,” said Christie, according to APP.

Also speaking at the press conference was New Jersey native Rich Wilder, who struggled with heroin addiction for 10 years. Utilizing a state job, training and housing program for ex-offenders with addiction issues, he has been sober for two years and now works at a lumber and millwork supply store.

“The addiction was just something that took over my life and took over my family’s life,” said Wilder. “And I was a sore on the community.”

The program in the Ocean County jail is especially needed. There have already been 120 drug overdose deaths in the county this year, with 93 of them related to heroin, according to NJ.com

But for Christie, the biggest issue related to addiction that he hopes to address is the stigma surrounding it. He believes the perception that addiction is a personal flaw ultimately discourages addicts from seeking treatment.

“When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, no one said she is getting what she deserves. They said she had a disease, and they did everything they could to treat her. And they extended both the length and the quality of her life,” said the governor.

“No one suggested to our family that somehow it was her fault. If my mother had been a heroin addict, I don’t think we would have gotten the same response universally.”

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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.