Taming New Jersey’s epidemic of heroin and prescription painkillers can start by prescribing fewer addictive medications, federal lawmakers said Monday in praising an innovative program at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center that relies increasingly on non-narcotics...

“Too many New Jerseyans have fallen to addiction, too many lives have been lost, too many families shattered,’’ said Sen. Bob Menedez, Democrat from New Jersey. Since 1999, there’s been a four-fold increase in the number of opiate prescriptions written to 260 million, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pain pills, he said. Each day 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the US.

Menedez, Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.. D-Paterson called for public health solutions rather than battling addiction and its aftermath solely as a criminal justice problem. The legislators attended the roundtable Monday sponsored by the Paterson hospital with addiction experts, county prosecutors and state police to better prevent substance abuse and to offer more treatment options.

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