Sun Editorial: The next steps in the opioid abuse fight

Christie’s $200 million ideas are, at the least, a starting point.

The governor has made fighting opioid abuse the last major initiative of his administration. It’s a noble effort. He’s also leading a national task force on the topic.

In talking with NJ.com recently, Christie outlined some of the programs he wants to initiate, including hiring “recovery coaches” to help addicts leaving treatment, providing more programs for those who don’t have insurance, offering more housing for those with abuse problems and more efforts to aid opioid-addicted mothers and their families.

Just where the additional $200 million will come from isn’t outlined yet, but give Christie credit for not standing on the sidelines. He has put forth ideas to stem a growing crisis that affects every community. It’s a starting point, at the least.

The next effort might come from the White House. The national task force, in a report to President Trump in July, recommended declaring opioid addiction a national emergency — a move that could utilize the Stafford Act, similar to what we saw with the recent hurricanes. The task force says such a declaration would force Congress to spend more money on an issue it believes is contributing to the deaths of more than 140 Americans every day. That’s a death toll that equates to the September 11 attacks every three weeks.

While the need to declare a national emergency is debatable given the potential bureaucracy, it certainly would garner attention. What’s not debatable is the national crisis before us.

Christie is to be commended for taking the lead in the fight against opioid abuse. He has people talking about it. And those discussions are where any type of reform and change will begin.