Increase access to addiction medicines / Letter to the Editor, NJ.com

When you last heard from me, I called on Congress to stop sitting on a bill to save lives. I’m thrilled that the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act was finally passed out of a House committee in May. It may move for a floor vote this month as an amendment to the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

Many of us believe that medication-assisted treatment is the gold-standard treatment for substance use disorder. The Drug Policy Alliance states that it reduces the risk of overdose by 50% and increases long term recovery. Yet, only 22% of those who received treatment in 2019 had access to MAT because of tightly controlled distribution and other factors.

New Jersey Organizing Project wants to thank U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist. for supporting proven public health solutions. His willingness to lead has been crucial in moving the MAT Act. This is a moment of celebration, and one of great urgency. We lost 108,000 loved ones in the United States last year. We are running out of time.

As a mother whose child struggles with addiction, I’ve learned that we must meet people where they are and get them access to lifesaving tools like MAT. As my family continues to struggle with the fallout, it becomes more apparent that treatment is not getting to the people who need it.

Democrats, Republicans and independents are on the same page on MAT. We commend our New Jersey House delegation, all of whom support this bill except U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist.

Please call your representative and reaffirm their continuing support for this bill. You can call the congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121. Smith’s Washington office office number is 202-225-3765.

Janit Buccella, Waretown

The writer is a member of New Jersey Organizing Project.

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