Health & Wellness

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Gov. Christie Signs Life-Saving Drug Addiction Reform, Ensuring Immediate Covered Treatment

Gov. Christie signs into law life-saving healthcare reform to guarantee insurance coverage for people to access immediate drug addiction treatment and to limit initial opioid prescriptions in Trenton. Credits: Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

TRENTON, NJ  - New Jersey now has America’s strongest addiction recovery reform program following the signing by Gov. Chris Christie of Senate bill S-3/A-3, a bi-partisan measure which requires health insurance coverage for treatment of substance abuse disease as well as providing a maximum limit of five days on initial opioid prescriptions, which often become a gateway to addiction.

In addition, in a week since the state started an ad campaign about its  addiction assistance programs, calls to 1-844-REACHNJ are up 50 percent.

844-ReachNJ or provides instant, 24-hour per day, free drug addiction related help.

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According to Pew, four out of five new heroin addicts start with prescription opioid drugs. Most states allow opioid prescriptions to last seven days or many states significantly longer, New Jersey will now lead the way in that regard, Christie said.

"When a person who is in the throes of addiction, as you know, realizes he or she needs help, they should not be blocked at the treatment center doors with their life hanging in the balance, because their insurance carrier requires a pre-evaluation that could take weeks to complete. Now, with this legislation, people seeking treatment cannot be denied access in their time of need," he said. 

Christie said that there was a 22 percent increase between 2014-2015 in drug overdose deaths with a 30 percent increase in heroin deaths over the previous year and triple the number of deaths caused by fentanyl.  

"That's 1,600 lives lost in 2015 alone," he said. "That’s four times the number of people who were murdered in New Jersey in 2015, and three times the number of people who died in an automobile accident."

No one now under this legislation will be turned away from treatment for insurance reasons, if licensed provider prescribes substance abuse disorder treatment. Insurance coverage for treatment of substance abuse disorder will be required and any waiting period that could derail a person’s recovery is eliminated by this bill.

People diagnosed with a substance abuse disease will have covered treatment for 180 days, starting the day they need it, including long-term out-patient treatment with no interference from their carrier, making New Jersey the only state in the nation in which people with insurance cannot be retroactively charged for six months of necessary addiction treatment. 

The Office of Attorney General is tasked with monitoring the system to prevent waste, fraud or abuse, and to ensure providers are not improperly treating patients or filling beds that could be used by those who are truly in need of treatment. A five-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions will be imposed, lowered from 30 days, which is the current law. 

"This is not going to impact cancer and hospice patients or residents of long-term care facilities, that was carefully opted out of the bill by the legislature with my consent," Christie added.

In addition, a requirement that physicians inform patients about the potential dangers of opioid use before issuing the prescription is now law in the State of New Jersey. And ensuring that physicians who prescribe opioids take continuing education courses on the issue as part of their licensure requirements.


"It’s not that people don’t need help, it’s that they don’t know where to go for help," Christie said. "And they’re kind of scared to ask for help, and sometimes embarrassed to ask for help. And the more I can go out there and put the face of the leader of this state in front of them saying, ‘Don’t wait, don’t suffer, pick up the phone and start to get help today.’

Addiction is not a moral failing, Christie said. It is a disease and the more that we talk about it as a disease, treat it as a disease, regulated it as a disease the more people will finally get the idea that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but it is in fact a sign of strength.

"It will send a signal to parents that asking for help for your child is not a sign that you’re a bad parent, but a good one. It will show husbands and wives across the state that being married to someone with the disease of addiction is not a failure by you as a spouse, but to ignore that problem is a failure. We need to understand that this is the only way we are going to change this problem across our state and hopefully across our nation." 


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Warren Township to Collect Winter Storm Quinn Tree Debris

March 15, 2018

WARREN, NJ - The Department of Public Works of Warren Township will be collecting tree and brush debris from all Warren Township residents in the aftermath of Winter Storm Quinn.

Due to the intense effects of Storm Quinn that impacted Warren Township on March 7, the Township Committee has authorized and directed the DPW to. begin the collection process ...

Somerset County Opens Emergency Shelter for Storm Victims at RVCC

BRANCHBURG, NJ – Due to the extended power outages in Somerset County as a result of Winter Storm Quinn and the expected cold temperatures over the next few days, the Somerset County Office of Emergency Management has partnered with the American Red Cross to open a shelter for county residents at Raritan Valley Community College.

The shelter opened as of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, ...

Update from Warren Office of Emergency Management on Saturday, Mar. 10

WARREN, NJ - The Warren Township Office of Emergency Management has provided a timeline and Jane Asch at Warren’s Office of Emergency Management has updated storm recovery information as of 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10 with the following:



The most pressing issue is restoration of power. It may be helpful to understand the triage system both JCP&L and ...

Storm Watch: Closings, Cancellations and Postponements

WARREN, NJ - The snow has started to fall. The National Weather Service is forecasting as much as 8 to 12 inches of snow to accumulate across the northern half of New Jersey and Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency.

The Warren Township Municipal Building and the Warren Library are closed today, Wednesday, Mar. 7 due to the storm. Watchung Borough offices and ...

Save the Date Warren for WHRHS Spring Musical ‘Guys and Dolls’

WARREN, NJ– The 2018 Spring Musical, “Guys and Dolls,” will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 22, 23, and 24, and at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 24, in the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Performing Arts Center.

The general public is invited to join with students, staff, parents and families at one or more of the ...

Center for Great Expectations Celebrating 20th Anniversary

March 16, 2018

SOMERSET, NJ - The Center for Great Expectations, a non-profit organization, is celebrating 20 years of providing substance use and mental health treatment for women and adolescents who are homeless, pregnant or parenting.

According to a release, the goals of the program are to guide women through their pregnancies, ensure proper care, increase the likelihood of a healthy baby and provide the ...

Junior League's Career Closet Celebrates Women's History Month

On March 20th, The Junior League of Elizabeth Plainfield’s Career Closet and the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits will host a celebratory event from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Jumble Store 110 Walnut Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey in honor of Women’s History Month.  Registration for the event must be by referral from our local community partners and government agencies. To ...


South Plainfield – Joanne Gallo, 68, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Warren, NJ, passed away ...
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AAA Cautions: Daylight Saving Could Affect Daily Commute

March 10, 2018

WARREN, NJ - AAA is reminding drivers that the change to Daylight Saving Time may create distractions on the roadway and challenges for drivers who lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits,” said Robert Sinclair, Manager of Media ...

Fairytale Marriage Proposal Takes Center Stage at St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 17, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – A surprise engagement took center stage at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Somerville. In the midst of the March 11 festivities, Piscataway resident Steven Verardi boarded a float and popped the question to his girlfriend Elise Latona, marking the first known engagement to take place at the parade in 27 years.

Since opening The Beauty Bar ...

Somerset County Student Escorted from School; Loaded Gun Found in Backpack

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - A 17-year-old high school student was escorted from school yesterday by police who found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his back pack along with narcotics, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Robertson said the initial investigation by law enforcement revealed that there were no known threats to the students or faculty; he commended the ...

Somerville: Students Make a Statement about School Safety and Eulogize Florida Shooting Victims

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Hundreds of Somerville High School students participated in the National School Walkout Wednesday morning to pay their respects to the 17 victims of last month’s mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and to draw attention to the issue of students' safety while in school.

The students gathered outdoors on the track in front ...

Danielsen Holds First in Series of Marijuana Hearings

SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - Lifelong Franklin resident, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17 Middlesex/Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee is leading discussions regarding legalized marijuana in New Jersey. 

Danielsen's committee heard testimony for several hours regarding the impact of expanding legalized marijuana Monday, March 5.

Local Travel Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day - Calm Family Events to Drinking Shots from...Nevermind

March 17, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day is coming upon us even faster than St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  Here are some of the areas great events to celebrate Irish pride.

March 17 Events

Hoboken - The Nerds at Willie McBride’s (see poster up in the slide show)

Newton - Sober St. Patrick’s Day Gathering

Newton (parade) - Sussex County St. Patrick's Day ...

After a Couple Painful Travel Days the New York City Area Airports Are Returning to Normal

After a couple of difficult travel days, the local airports are returning to normal.  The FAA is reportin only 10 to 15 minute delays.  Allow extra times for the commute to the airport and you should be fine.

Just keep these ideas and links fresh in mind for future travels.  You may even want to bookmark the page for future reference.

Most Airlines now offer ...

Air Travel Disruptions - Newark and Laguardia Airports Are Reporting Delays of 1 to 2 Hours.

The weather continues to play havoc on local air travel.  Newark is reporting average delays of 1 hour 41 minutes and LaGuardia is experiencing 59 minute delays.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will be your fastest way to get notifications. Also, make sure to ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...