TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced the creation of a new office within the Office of the Attorney General dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic.
The Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Response and Enforcement Strategies (“NJ CARES”) will be responsible for overseeing addiction-fighting efforts across the Department of Law and Public Safety and creating partnerships with other agencies and groups similarly committed to identifying and implementing solutions to the opioid crisis and drug addiction.
Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs and a Deputy Director in the Division of Law, has been named Director of NJ CARES. Under Joyce’s leadership, the office will roll out a series of new addiction-fighting programs, including the creation of around-the-clock “Opioid Response Teams” in municipalities throughout New Jersey, an electronic data-sharing network to exchange opioid-related data among state agencies, and an online portal providing the public with real-time updates on overdose deaths and other addiction-related information.
Attorney General Grewal announced the creation of NJ CARES during a keynote address that kicked off a daylong multi-state symposium at Seton Hall University School of Law. The symposium brings together policymakers, caregivers, and advocates from New Jersey and other states to share ideas on how to combat the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.
“The opioid crisis is unprecedented in its scope and devastating in its intensity, and our response must be equally broad in scope and intensity,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Response and Enforcement Strategies or 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.”
“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,” said Director Joyce. “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 new initiatives being rolled out under NJ CARES are:
The Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Law, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, has broad powers to fight the opioid crisis through regulation, enforcement, criminal prosecution, and civil litigation.
Under Director Joyce, NJ CARES will coordinate the strategic use of those powers to promote new initiatives and advance existing addiction-fighting programs that helped propel New Jersey to the forefront in addressing the country’s opioid epidemic. Joyce, a 38-year veteran of the Department of Law and Public Safety and a Deputy Director in the Division of Law, was instrumental in planning and implementing many of those programs.
Among the initiatives Joyce was instrumental in planning and implementing are: the creation and expansion of the NJ PMP; the creation of rules establishing standards for prescribing opioids, and an emergency ban on several unregulated, counterfeit analogs of the highly-addictive opioid painkiller “fentanyl.”
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