NEW JERSEY: PREDICTABLE, CONTINUING SURGE IN HIGH RISK OPIOID USE POST-PANDEMIC WITH INCREASING PROVISION OF MEDICAL CURE FOR HIGH RISK USE
As in West Virginia, problem opioid use and deaths persistently mount while pandemic stressors dissipate and America’s medical cure is freely available
by Clark Miller
Published June 6, 2022
Something isn’t working.
The opioid crisis, on paper, should be a Trenton policy success story. In the past decade, the Legislature passed dozens of bills aiming to expand access to treatment, education, and life-saving drugs like naloxone, and fundamentally alter how many drug crimes are prosecuted. Most passed with bipartisan support. Hundreds of millions of dollars were earmarked for the fight.
But virtually every front in the fight against opioids has changed in the last five years. And New Jersey isn’t winning.
Something isn’t working
That’s refreshing, that startlingly anomalous, unexpected piece of truth, appearing in American media of all places. A a small rip in the matrix. A tear that will be pixilated back together into the seamless image of American expert consensus it was before, a lethal sheen of expert authority and decency. A sheen of fabricated Truth that assured – decades ago – vulnerable Americans trapped in substance use epidemics that there are medical cures for their desperate problems with compulsive substance use, a lifelong disease of the brain.
A revealing tear that’s too little, too late – hundreds of thousands of deaths too late and $billions in public healthcare funds diverted to contribute to those deaths – too late.
But, where were we? And how did we get so far offtrack like that? Raising questions that are none of our business?
But back to New Jersey. In New Jersey,
It’s all killing more people. In 2020 and 2021, more than 3,000 people died of drug overdoses, the latter year setting a grim record. So far in 2022, at least 952 people have died of suspected drug overdoses, about the same pace as previous years.
New Jersey has also made reducing barriers to medication-assisted treatment and harm reduction a priority since the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.
New Jersey has expanded access to drugs like buprenorphine.
“So far in 2022,”
as in West Virginia, with dissipation of isolation and other stressors, fabricated as causes of continuously mounting opioid deaths over pandemic years, now unable to account for the continued levels of high risk use.
Buprenorphine . . . oh yeah! Suboxone, “subs”, the cure for high risk opioid use that American Medicine has been increasingly providing to the diseased brains over past decades – pre-pandemic, pandemic, now post-pandemic, in order to save lives, because it is established as the fix, the “gold standard“, the proven life saving treatment for problem opioid use.
In New Jersey,
that proven cure, medically provided medication assisted treatment, MAT, has been a focus of response to the deadly opioid crisis for years –
Trenton has taken an aggressive stance on the opioid crisis dating back to the Christie administration, largely shifting from a law enforcement model to one more focused on outreach and treatment.
The Legislature has passed dozens of bills that have increased access to and funding for in-patient beds, eliminated some of the red tape around medicated assisted treatment, and bolstered outreach and recovery coach programs.
And why not use public funds for those treatment approaches,
even as deaths mount decade after decade? We are assured by unified consensus of America’s expert class that those investments of public healthcare resources are exactly what is needed to fix America’s opioid and substance use lethal epidemics.
Who would question that? It would be frightening, these days, to question an expert consensus on public health response to a lethal epidemic.
And fortunately for America? That medical cure for high-risk opioid use with risk of death, especially these days, doesn’t even require a visit to a doctor or a clinic. Just get on your smartphone. Or easier yet, just go down on the street, where you were getting your dope, because Suboxone, “subs”, are everywhere, in unlimited supply, and available to any opioid user on the streets who wants to free themselves from the daily risk of death posed by use of street opioids. We know that’s a common use of illicit Suboxone, because America’s top, trusted medical authorities have assured us of that.
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) – check
Recovery coach – check
What could possibly go wrong?
Except . . . something isn’t working.
In New Jersey, something isn’t working.
As in St. Louis, where something isn’t working.
As in West Virginia, something isn’t working.
In America, something isn’t working.
“Crisis is a necessary condition for a questioning of doxa, but is not in itself a sufficient condition for the production of a critical discourse.”
– Pierre Bourdieu Outline of a Theory of Practice (1972)
In Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, heterodoxy is dissent, challenge to what “goes without saying” – the accepted, constructed doxa, “knowledge”, reality, that goes without saying precisely because it “comes without saying”, without real scrutiny, untested, unquestioned. The function of doxa is not knowledge or truth or promotion of the collective good, but to protect and serve the interests of those with the power, the cultural capital, to create it.