Grewal opioid

New Jersey’s Indian American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has created an office within the Office of the Attorney General devoted to fighting the opioid addiction crisis. (screen grab of YouTube/NJTV News)

New Jersey’s Indian American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has taken proactive measures in battling the ever-growing opioid addiction crisis in the U.S., his office announced in a Feb. 22 news release.

Grewal created an office within the Office of the Attorney General devoted to fighting the problem, the news release said.

The Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Response and Enforcement Strategies, or NJ CARES, will oversee addiction-fighting efforts and create partnerships with other agencies and groups battling the crisis, the release said.

“The opioid crisis is unprecedented in its scope and devastating in its intensity, and our response must be equally broad in scope and intensity,” Grewal said as he gave the keynote address at a multistate symposium on opioids at the Seton Hall University School of Law, according to an report.

Grewal added that NJ Cares “will combine all the relevant authority and resources within the Department of Law and Public Safety to unleash a full attack on this deadly epidemic.”

The crisis has been a talking point for some time now.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, while serving as surgeon general during the President Barack Obama administration in 2016, released a report "Facing Addiction in America," that detailed the toll the crisis has taken on the country.

“We have made progress,” the Indian American physician said. “How do we keep that progress going? A key part is making sure people have insurance coverage," he said.

“How we respond to this crisis is a moral test for America. Are we a nation willing to take on an epidemic that is causing great human suffering and economic loss?” he added at the time.

Sharon M. Joyce, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs and a deputy director in the Division of Law, will serve as opioid office director. She is a 38-year veteran of the Department of Law and Public Safety, the report said.

“I am honored and ready to lead NJ CARES on its mission to free New Jersey from the chains of addiction and provide relief to those suffering from it,” she said in a statement, according to the report. “The programs we’re announcing today create partnerships throughout the state that will make us all stronger, better-informed and more capable of defeating the scourge of addiction.”

Among the initiatives NJ CARES hopes to launch include around the clock “Opioid Response Teams,” inter-agency data sharing, and an online portal for the public, as well as enhancements to the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, the release said, according to the report.

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