New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made a very controversial decision by airing an anti-drug advertising campaign all over the state.
The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness around addiction. The commercial gives the number to a toll-free drug addiction hotline and offers guidance for those who have questions about addiction but don’t know where to turn. Many drug addicts lack health insurance, and so assume they cannot access care of any kind. If the campaign works, it will give many suffering from addiction a safe place to receive help.
In fact, the calls have been pouring in since the commercial first aired on January 20. Before the commercial, New Jersey’s 2-1-1 hotline would get around 20 calls a day. Now, they are averaging around 70. This hotline is state-wide and helps callers find counselors, doctors, and other resources in their area.
Addiction specialists at Humble Beginnings Treatment Center in Cherry Hill are feeling positive about the potential of this campaign after seeing its success in just its first month.
“The coverage that this disease is finally getting is ground breaking, it’s amazing, it’s about time,” says Justin Wroblewski, the Humble Beginnings director of admissions, according to a local CBS station.
This campaign is so important to Christie that he has pledged to spend up to $15 million during its tenure. According to NJ Advanced Media, the campaign has such a large budget because there has been a recent refinancing of statewide debt, resulting in a significant increase in savings for media purposes.
All of this comes after Christie’s January State of the State Address where the Governor promised to work on the state’s underlying drug epidemic. For perspective, New Jersey’s heroin fatality rate was more than twice the national average back in 2015.
On top of the ad campaign, Christie has pledged $64 million statewide to fund the drug court program in every county, $1 million to go towards college campuses to help their students overcome addiction, along with $2.8 million for a recovery coach program that connects recovering addicts with therapy and treatment counseling.
While the term “drugs’ usually refers to hard street drugs, addiction can also come in the form of alcohol or tobacco. Smoking is not only addictive, but it is incredibly harmful to the body and can cause heart failure and cancer. So can the incredibly dangerous chemical radon, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. According to the EPA and the Surgeon General, radon is the culprit behind more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths nationwide every year.
With so many risks in life, Gov. Christie believes it’s important to help save people from preventable deaths, such as heroin overdoses.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Christie went viral for a well-received speech about the need to treat drug addicts with compassion.
With this new television campaign in New Jersey, Gov. Christie is leading by example.