Gottheimer seeks to conduct study on opioid abuse in students

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Rep. Josh Gottheimer is asking the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services to compile data on exactly how many New Jersey students are dying of opioid abuse and how their addictions started.

Gottheimer says that the addictions often start in student athletes who get hurt while participating in their sport. The congressman says that players can often get addicted to painkillers, which is why he is pushing so hard to change how opioid use is handled and treated in America.

“Giving that prescription out is of last resort because we see what happens in the end,” he says.

Gottheimer held an event at Fairleigh Dickinson University Friday to discuss the use of opioids.

Mother Gail Cole says that opioids caused her family much grief. Her son Brendan became addicted after originally being prescribed the medication following surgery. He later died due to his addiction.

“You know it’s not Brendan the addicted, it’s not Joe or Sally the addict. That’s not who they were,” she says. “It’s a disease. Addiction is a disease.”

Cole says that it is possible to become dependent on the drugs in a little as five days.

Dr. Michael Kelly says he is limiting how he prescribes opioids in his operating room.

“We stopped with the IV opioids in many of our surgeries, especially painful orthopedic surgeries,” he says. “We’ve limited access to opioid management in pain post-operatively.”

Gottheimer is proposing a three-step process: first to collect data on opioid use and then to share it and learn from it.

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