The New Jersey office of the Drug Policy Alliance launched the Overdose Prevention Campaign on Overdose Awareness Day 2011 in order to promote public health policies aimed at raising awareness about drug overdose and reducing the number of overdose deaths. The Campaign originally advocated for two separate pieces of legislation, one bill to create a Good Samaritan law providing legal protections for overdose witnesses who summon medical assistance and another to expand access to the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.
The Drug Policy Alliance, family advocates, and our coalition partners worked tirelessly for nearly three years and remained undaunted even in the face of a veto by the Governor. These efforts ultimately paid off when, under an agreement between Governor Christie and the Legislature, a compromise combined the previously separate bills into one piece of comprehensive overdose prevention legislation.
On May 2, 2013, the Overdose Prevention Act was signed into law. In addition to encouraging overdose witnesses to call 911 by providing legal protections to overdose victims and those seeking help, it also allows doctors to provide naloxone to anyone who may be in a position to assist in an overdose emergency. Those who prescribe, dispense and administer naloxone are protected from civil and criminal liability. DPA was present at the public signing of the Overdose Prevention Act.
In February of 2015, Governor Christie signed additional legislation expanding the Overdose Prevention Act to promote more widespread utilization and dissemination of naloxone. Thousands of needless deaths have already been prevented and countless more lives will be saved moving forward. We are grateful to those who worked so hard to make this law a reality and remain dedicated to its implementation.
The Overdose Prevention Campaign continues to work on implementing a comprehensive and objective public health strategy to combat overdose deaths.