By Maddie Hanna

Gov. Christie returned to his drug recovery message Tuesday as he announced expanded efforts by the state to tackle opioid addiction.

Joined at a Statehouse event by former Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey, who has partnered with the Republican governor on anti-addiction efforts, Christie said that the state Attorney General's Office had added seven derivatives of fentanyl to the list of Schedule 1 Controlled Substances. The emergency order allows for the arrest and prosecution of people who manufacture, distribute or possess the synthetic painkiller.

The state also is expanding its "recovery coach" program, which connects people admitted to hospital emergency rooms after drug overdoses with recovering addicts to encourage them to seek treatment. The program, currently in five counties including Camden and Ocean, will expand to six more counties including Burlington and Gloucester, Christie said. The new services are expected to begin before Christmas.

Christie also said the state had reached an agreement with California-based Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to extend a rebate program allowing New Jersey police departments and first responders to continue purchasing naloxone, which reverses the effects of opiate overdoses, at a discount.

Describing his past calls, including on the presidential campaign trail, for reducing the stigma of drug addiction, Christie said he would continue to talk about addiction as a disease.

"The sin here is that it is treatable, but we're not giving people the permission they need to seek that treatment," he said.

(c)2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer