Gov. Christie declares opioid epidemic a public health crisis in New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie has declared opioid drug abuse a public health crisis in the Garden State.



The executive order the governor signed Tuesday in Newark creates a task force to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat the drug abuse epidemic.



Gov. Christie says that he is devoting his final year in office to addressing the drug crisis, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,600 people in the state in 2015.



He says the state must take "aggressive action to get this insidious crisis under control."



The order will also be charged with reviewing state regulations that stand in the way of addicts getting help.



"Last week in Ocean County they were telling me that we just need a lot more ambulatory detox facilities," Christie said. "People can't get detox."



The governor made the announcement at the Integrity House drug treatment program and held a discussion with past and current drug addicts in the program.



The eight-member task force will be led by Charlie McKenna, Gov. Christie's former top government lawyer.



The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.


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