New Jersey Approves New Law for Sober Living on Most College Campuses

map of new jersey

When someone becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, the disease’s development is accompanied by some pretty major life changes. For instance, if an individual with dependent children becomes addicted, both the addict and his or her children are put at significant risk; on the other hand, if a college student develops a chemical dependence he or she is likely to lose the many fruits of extensive labor. In short, the development of an addiction almost always involves a great deal of personal sacrifices that can also harm the individuals in the addicts’s life.

However, statistics has shown that of the 23 million Americans who are suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, only one in every ten addicts receives the treatment needed to overcome chemical dependency. There are many reasons for the low rate of recovery, such as the common perception that treatment is too expensive or is inaccessible to those in need. Oftentimes individuals avoid recovery for a much more simple reason, which is that they fear the withdrawal symptoms that occur when an addict ceases consumption of his or her substance of choice.

Due to the low rates of treatment and recovery, lawmakers and government officials have been diligently brainstorming new and innovative ways of making treatment available and more accessible to those in need. With the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—also known simply as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare”—addiction treatment is now one of the essential health benefits covered by most government and health insurance providers, but this recent change has yet to elevate recovery rates as was hoped. As such, there has been much additional legislature proposed or passed in the hope of decreasing the exceedingly high addiction rates we’re seeing nowadays. In New Jersey, which has recently passed much addiction recovery-oriented legislation, a new law making sober housing available on college campuses is seen as another aggressive move in the ongoing effort to curb the rates of heroin addiction in the Garden State.

The Heroin Crisis in New Jersey

Like the rest of the United States, New Jersey has been experiencing a major heroin epidemic that has resulted in a spike in heroin-related deaths across the state. In fact, there were 740 deaths directly attributed to a heroin overdose in 2014 alone, a trend that has been steadily rising and has been a major concern to New Jersey officials and politicians. In cities like Paterson and a number of towns in and around the metro areas, heroin addiction is all but out of control with law enforcement overwhelmed with the local heroin trade. Hoping to deflect the crisis, New Jersey Legislature has passed a number of bills, such as one that would make the drug Narcan—administered in the event of a heroin overdose to prevent death—more available to emergency first-responders; moreover, the governor has assembled his own addiction task force consisting of a panel of officials who are constantly trying to come up with more effective ways of addressing the growing heroin and drug problems.

two men passing heroin needle

New Legislation in New Jersey Brings Sober Living to College Campuses

Late in 2014, the Assembly and Senate were presented with legislation that would improve the availability of addiction treatments to prison inmates, create a system for ranking the quality of alcohol and drug rehabs, bolster the state’s preventative addiction education in the school systems, require doctors or explicitly warn patients when they receive potentially addictive drugs and make many college campuses offer sober living facilities. Put forth by Senator Joseph Vitale, the cluster of bills acknowledge the fact that, due to the high purity and comparatively low cost of heroin in New Jersey, the state’s heroin epidemic is especially dire and will continue to see increasing heroin-related deaths if the situation isn’t addressed somehow.

Recently, New Jersey has seen significant growth in its sober housing industry. In addition to legislation involving involuntary commitment of individuals suffering from chemical dependency, there’s been a number of bills put forth concerning regulations and quality control of the sober living facilities that have been appearing throughout the state. Part of the reason for the influx of sober living accommodations is due to the fact that the demand for treatment in New Jersey is greater than what the state has been able to accommodate. And although sober living is often used to great effect for transitional living after inpatient treatment, an influx of illegitimate facilities that have led to the abuse or harm of recovering individuals has made officials reconsidered the traditionally relaxed regulation of sober living facilities.

Moreover, with college students being one of the greatest risk groups for opiate and heroin addiction, there’s be a call for sober living facilities to become more accessible to those individuals who are in great need and at high risk. Having now been signed by Governor Chris Christie, the legislation now makes sober living accommodations available on college campuses so that those individuals who have suffered and recovered from addiction can attend college while residing in a safe, drug-free environment. According to Vitale and other proponents of the legislation, their studies have determined that campuses that offer sober living facilities have higher GPAs and better academic performance than those without. It’s also follows that having sober living facilities available on college campuses will decrease addiction and relapse rates due to students in recovery being able to reside with like-minded individuals who have also experienced addiction and are supportive and encouraging of sobriety.

The new legislation applies to Rutgers New Brunswick, The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, and Rowan University, among others. Additional legislation has also made it possible for drug court enrollees to receive a replacement or medication-assisted therapy (MAT) with Methadone or Suboxone.

Find Your Way to Recovery with Recovery Hub

If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about addiction treatment programs, contact Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction find the programming that best addresses their recovery needs.

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