Ken Serrano , @KenSerranoAPP
A measure to limit opioid prescriptions is up for a vote in the state Senate and Assembly. This is why legislators feel the law is needed. Wochit
Six years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared prescription drug overdoses “An American Epidemic,” the state Legislature is set to enact the strongest measures in the country to cut into the opioid and heroin crisis.
A bill expected to reach Gov. Chris Christie’s deskpromises to cut down on the number of painkillers in medicine cabinets in New Jersey, make doctors talk to patients about the dangers of OxyContin, oxycodone and other opioids and get more addicts into treatment.
The bill includes beefed-up insurance mandates to provide more addiction services for the roughly 30 percent of New Jerseyans whose health care plans are regulated by the state. The cost for such extra benefits is not yet known.
The aim of the bill is clear: To prevent stories like Colin Riebel’s.
Thousands of victims
Don Riebel can still hear his 21-year-old son’s hopeful words as he headed for a plane that would take him to a rehabilitation clinic in Florida to beat his heroin addiction.
“Dad, I’m going to be OK,” Riebel recalled his 6-feet-1-inch, 250-pound son, the youngest of two, shouting.
EXCLUSIVE: The Children of Heroin Series
A die-hard supporter of Philadelphia sports teams who dreamed of being a sportscaster, a “teddy bear of a guy” fearful of lying because he was so bad at it when he was a child, a kid with a great work ethic who was built for football – he was the last kid you would think of as a heroin addict, his father said.
Colin successfully completed that program in November 2013, only to return to New Jersey and overdose on heroin two days later. The young Bellmawr man died two weeks short of his 22nd birthday.
Colin’s addiction started when he was 15, after he received prescriptions for Percocet following each of three surgeries for sports injuries, his father said.
“We weren’t educated by the provider. Nothing about how Percocets can be addictive,” Riebel said. “When we notified them that Colin was addicted, they said ‘Sorry.’ When we called to tell them he was dead, they didn’t return the call.”