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At Addiction Treatment Services International (ATSI), each client is treated with compassion and respect. Here, you or your loved one will learn to overcome the disease of addiction, understand why addiction has taken control and, in turn, change life for the better. Why? Because we make long-term recovery possible by advancing standards and practices in the field of substance use disorder treatment.

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New Jersey Celebrates Work of Addiction Treatment and Prevention

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

ChristieThis week marks the one-year anniversary of New Jersey’s Facing Drug Addiction Task Force. The task force was created under Governor Christie to address drug addiction through treatment and prevention. “What I’ve tried to emphasize over the years is to remind everybody that drug addiction is a disease. It is a disease. It’s not a moral failing,” Christie said. “This impacts entire families. It impacts co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, friends. It affects everyone who is in this person’s orbit so this is not a victimless crime or a single victim crime. We can’t just throw people in jail. That’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked for 30-plus years and it’s not going to work.”

When Governor Christie established the task force one year ago, he made it clear what he hoped it would accomplish. “Those suffering with addiction are often ashamed of their disease, leading to isolation from their families, communities, and friends and the access to help they need to treat and overcome their disease,” Christie said. “In this fight, we must not only improve the services available to help addicted individuals reclaim their lives, but it is just as important that we bring down the invisible barriers to seeking out treatment – ending the stigma and recognize it can affect anyone. I’m bringing together this group of experts, leaders, and individuals with first-hand experience from inside and outside of government to build on our efforts, and give recommendations on where we can strengthen our treatment services, prevention efforts, and strategies to end the stigma on this issue.”

The governor also announced the creation of a new referral source for addiction services. Called “Recovery Coaches,” the program will connect addicts who have overdosed with treatment professionals. A second new program proposed by the governor will make it easier for ex-offenders to get back into the workforce after their time served.

Many families that struggle with addiction are hopeful about the governor’s views of addiction. Our country overall is headed in a positive direction when we talk about treatment and prevention rather than fines and incarceration.

Read more about Governor Christie’s plans here.


Presidential Candidates Speak Out on Decriminalization of Drug Crimes

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

file000863634145At this week’s GOP debate, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina became yet another hopeful to speak out on the issue of addiction treatment over jail time. Fiorina revealed that her stepdaughter, Lori Ann, died in 2009 from alcohol and prescription drug addiction. According to Fiorina, Lori Ann battled her addiction for several years and was in and out of rehab. “As anyone who has loved someone with an addiction knows, you can force someone into rehab, but you can’t make her well,” Fiorina said in an earlier interview. “Only the addict can do that. Lori couldn’t — or wouldn’t — take that first step of admitting she was powerless over her addiction. And ultimately her body just gave out.”

Fiorina also weighed in earlier this year on what isn’t working with prosecuting young people for drug possession. “You have a lot of young people who are getting access to drugs and then they are getting arrested frequently — it’s just a bad, bad cycle. We need to create a circumstance in which people have a stake in their community — and they have a stake in their community because they believe their community offers them possibilities for a future.”

Fiorina’s opinion is like that of many other presidential candidates who are seeing the value of addiction treatment rather than incarceration.

Read more about the presidential debate here.

Governor Christie’s Plan to Combat Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

ChristieMany politicians are now weighing in on the right way to combat drug and alcohol addiction. Governor Christie is no different. He has worked for the past several years to pass legislation that would help treat those with addiction disorders, while making it more difficult for people to get their hands on things like prescription drugs.

Christie’s own state of New Jersey is currently dealing with an opiate overdose epidemic, and this week Christie spoke out once again about how to stop this growing problem.

“The way to really win the war on drugs is to treat the addict,” Christie said in an ad campaign. “For those whose lives we have a chance to save I want us to try and save those lives. Because I believe that every one of those lives is a precious gift from God and it’s not up to us to decide when that life ends.”

How will Christie tackle such a serious problem? His actions as Governor should give us some indication. Christie believes the following will help curb the addiction problem. Some of these things he has done already, others are still in progress:

  • Establish substance abuse housing recovery program on public colleges and universities
  • Expand treatment for addiction through drug court
  • Expand the use of Narcan for opiate overdoses
  • Fund new treatment beds
  • Push insurance carriers to cover more substance abuse treatment programs
  • Expand state’s prescription drug database
  • Launch “KnowAddiction” website and public service announcements

You can see Governor Christie’s newest “Every Life” ad here. Then let us know what you think of Christie’s plan to end drug and alcohol abuse.

On the Campaign Trail: Hillary Clinton Proposes Spending More Money to Combat Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

23 Mar 2015, Washington, DC, USA --- Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington. --- Image by © Brooks Kraft/Corbis

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton wants to spend $10 billion in new federal grants to combat drug and alcohol addiction. She, like several other candidates, has talked openly about wanting to find a way to put an end to heroin and prescription drug abuse. “It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands. Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing — and we must treat it as such,” said Clinton.

The real question is how does Clinton hope to accomplish the goal of ending these types of addiction? More than 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. New Jersey residents should pay particular attention to politicians’ ideas because the state is struggling with a surge in heroin and prescription drug addiction and overdose. According to the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, drug-related deaths in New Jersey have skyrocketed in recent years, increasing 53 percent from 2010 to 2012. More than two-thirds of those deaths were due to prescription drug abuse.

Clinton’s plan would do the following:

  • Prioritize treatment over incarceration, which would save money that can be used to pay for the program
  • Make money available to states to create programs that educate the public, treat addicts, train prescribers, and equip first responders with opiate-reversing drugs
  • Prevent nurse practitioners and physician assistants from prescribing opiates
  • Review Medicare and Medicaid to be sure they cover proper treatment

Does this proposal sound good to you? Read more of Hillary Clinton’s proposal here, and then let us know what you think!

White House Develops a Plan to Stop Heroin Epidemic

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Government/Law, Illicit Drugs

file000863634145It’s what the country has been waiting and hoping for – a real plan that can finally help do something about the tragic rise in heroin addiction and overdose in our country. The White House announced this week that it will implement a plan that will focus on treatment rather than prosecution of heroin addicts.

Called the Heroin Response Strategy, the plan will work to locate the sources of heroin and prosecute dealers and distributors of the drug, but will coordinate law enforcement and public health workers in order to work on prevention and treatment, and training first responders to administer overdose-reversing medication.

“It’s something that’s very much on the president’s radar,” said Eric Schultz, White House deputy press secretary. “This is a pretty severe threat that we face and so this program is an unprecedented partnership with both law enforcement and public health officials to really get at the root of it.”

The initial $2.5 million for the program will be funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and will tackle the heroin problem in 15 states. “The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue,” Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement. “This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”

Read more about the program here.

What New Jersey’s Newest Law Means for Opiate Addicts

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Government/Law, Prescription Drugs

file1321340932141Governor Christie signed a bill this week that targets the prescription opiate problem in New Jersey. The bill strengthens the state’s prescription drug monitoring program in the hopes that it will make it more difficult for people to abuse opiates. However, the bill says little about the other half of the opiate crisis: heroin addiction.

New Jersey has been struggling with prescription painkiller and heroin abuse for the past few years, and the statistics get more disappointing year after year. The new bill will help the state regulate prescription painkillers better and will hopefully help identify those that need addiction treatment.

According to Governor Christie, “We have taken great strides in the fight against opiate abuse through a comprehensive strategy that encourages healthcare professionals, treatment providers, law enforcement, and members of the public to each embrace their role in addressing this healthcare crisis. By signing S-1998, we’re not only making the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program even stronger, we’re demonstrating  that by working together, we can all be part of the solution – a solution that fights the stigma of addiction, saves lives and helps rebuild families.”

What this means for those that abuse prescription opiates is that it will be more difficult to get their drug of choice. What is unclear is what this will do to the heroin addiction epidemic.

Read more about the bill here, and then tell us what you think should be done about the opiate abuse problem in the state.

What the New Drug Czar Has to Say, Part 2

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

MichaelBotticelliMichael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has his own views about legalizing marijuana and how drug crimes should be handled. Many people are looking to the drug czar to provide direction in cases related to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

The ONDCP has been against the legalization of marijuana all along, and Botticelli says it is partly because of the health problems marijuana can cause, and how legalizing it will affect younger people. “We’ve been opposed to legalization efforts, not from an ideological perspective, but from a public-health perspective,” Botticelli told the Dallas Morning News. “A couple of things: The evidence is abundantly clear that there are significant adverse health consequences to marijuana, and particularly for youths. We know that kids who use substances, particularly alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, from a very young age are [harming their] developing brains. It puts them at significant risk for developing addiction. It’s been linked to poor academic achievement. It seems to exacerbate, particularly, issues around mental health issues. A study showed that fairly chronic use leads to lower IQ issues.”

As far as punishments for drug crimes, however, Botticelli believes that we must focus on treatment and rehab rather than time behind bars, and his office will work to make treatment more available to those that need it. “Locking people up for minor drug offenses, and especially people with substance-use disorders, is not the answer,” Mr. Botticelli told the New York Times. “It’s cruel. It’s costly. And it doesn’t make the public any safer.”

Do you agree with the drug czar? Read the full interview with Botticelli here and then tell us what you think.

What the New Drug Czar Has to Say, Part 1

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

MichaelBotticelliDrug Czar Michael Botticelli has been in office for less than a year, but his drug policies are already starting to show through. He recently talked with the Dallas Morning News editorial board about his views regarding drug crimes and the stigma attached to addiction.

Botticelli, himself a recovered alcoholic, believes firmly that in order to help more people get treatment for addiction, we need to change how our society talks about, views, and treats addicts. Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who have a loved one struggling with addiction, try to do all they can to keep the addiction a secret. They will make excuses and pull away from others because they don’t want them to find out. This often leads to the person slipping further into their addiction and shutting everyone else out.

If more people would feel comfortable talking about the disease of addiction, however, they would be more likely to seek help. Botticelli explains how even the words people use can be embarrassing to addicts. “There are a whole host of terms we use in addiction that we don’t use for [people with disorders] … you know — junkies, addicts. We even call the results of urine tests dirty and unclean. We don’t do that for any other disease.”

According to Botticelli, the way society views addiction is one of the biggest barriers to treatment. Only about 10% of those that need help actually get the treatment they need. “One of the biggest reasons why people don’t seek care is shame and stigma,” he said. “They really feel embarrassed, even more so than mental health.” Botticelli will be working during his term as drug czar to create awareness about the disease of addiction, and will promote educational and prevention campaigns.

Read the full interview with Botticelli here, and then tell us what you think: how can we do away with the stigma associated with addiction?

Ways New Jersey is Working to Combat the Opioid Drug Problem

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Government/Law, Prescription Drugs

file1321340932141There is much debate over what to do about the opioid drug problem in America today. The federal government has implemented several programs to help with the problem, and each state, including New Jersey, is also putting together initiatives that can make a difference in their own area.

New Jersey has struggled with prescription drug and heroin addiction for the past several years. In April of this year, Governor Christie signed legislation that would improve the state’s ability to fight opioid abuse. “I’m proud of what we’ve done in New Jersey and proud of the work that we continue to do together to help people reclaim their lives. But we cannot become complacent,” said Governor Christie. “Today, we are taking further action to keep our fight against drug abuse and addiction going strong. We’re doing this by continuing successful programs like Project Medicine Drop to get unused prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet and into drop-off bins as well as fortifying our coordinated efforts against the scourge of opioid abuse in an effort to save more lives.”

A prescription drug database is now available in the state that monitors those that are receiving painkillers to ensure they are not getting more than is prescribed. Prevention campaigns are also being promoted at area schools and medical facilities.

This summer a new bill was signed by New Jersey legislation that would bring others into the equation to help. “New Jersey’s heroin and opioid addiction and abuse epidemic is real,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “It’s time to involve the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry in this fight. One way we can do this is to ease the access to these abuse-deterrent formulations of narcotics.”

The new law would require insurance companies to cover prescription opioid drugs that are approved by the FDA as abuse-deterrent, so that more of these drugs are circulating instead of ones that can easily be crushed and smoked or injected. “There is an epidemic and if the insurance side of the world isn’t responding to those needs it doesn’t happen because it’s just too expensive on its own,” Benson said. “We understand that medications are expensive and we need to make sure that the marketplace is responding to the needs that are out there in the community.”

Read more about the bill and ways it might help prevent abuse here.

New Jersey Law to Crack Down on Drunk Drivers that Endanger Children

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Alcohol, Government/Law


Dfile0001847431097runk driving is always dangerous and can hurt or kill innocent people, but it is even more of a tragedy when children are involved. A new law in New Jersey will enforce stricter penalties for those that choose to drive drunk with children in the car. “We’re talking about child endangerment,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson in a press release. “Drunk driving is wholly unacceptable, but it is even more delinquent when a minor is a passenger of the vehicle.”

Children are often the innocent victims of their parents’ poor choices. Children of addicts or alcoholics often have to live day to day with the abuse, neglect, or uncertainty that is a result of their parent’s addiction. Lawmakers in New Jersey are working to protect children whose parents make the decision to drive while drunk. The bill would increase the minimum sentence for cases that involve drunk driving with a minor as a passenger.

The goal with the new law is to show that the state will not accept this type of recklessness when it comes to the health and safety of children. “These children are driven by adults and they’re told to get in the car. They don’t have a voice. They don’t have a say-so whether the person is drunk or not. We have to be the voice for those children,” said Assemblyman Charles Mainor.

Read more about the new law here.


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