Statistics on drug addiction in New Jersey show that it is a pervasive issue that affects individuals, families, and communities across the state. This complex condition involves a compulsive need to use substances despite harmful consequences, leading to physical and psychological dependence. The scope of drug addiction in New Jersey extends from opioids and prescription medications to illicit substances like cocaine and methamphetamine.
The primary drivers of drug addiction in the Garden State include socioeconomic factors, lack of access to quality healthcare, and the opioid epidemic that has swept the nation. Additionally, the state’s proximity to major drug trafficking routes exacerbates the problem, making substances more accessible and affordable.
Drug addiction in New Jersey is not just a concern; it’s a full-blown crisis affecting thousands of lives. With a staggering 2,914 confirmed overdoses, the Garden State has a public health emergency that demands immediate attention. The substances at the forefront of this crisis are Fentanyl and Heroin, contributing to 2,266 and 1,082 confirmed cases, respectively.
The manifestations of drug addiction are multifaceted, ranging from deteriorating physical health to strained interpersonal relationships and financial ruin. Unlike common misconceptions, this is not a moral failing but a chronic disease that requires comprehensive treatment.
Effective interventions for drug addiction in New Jersey encompass medical detoxification, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and harm reduction strategies. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and family support are also crucial components in the recovery journey.
New Jersey Substance Use Statistics 2023
The Garden State, with its vibrant communities and bustling cities, is not immune to the challenges posed by substance abuse. We conducted an in-depth review of the NJ Chief State Medical Examiners reports to come up with these findings along with NJ-Sams and the NJ. Gove Statewide Substance Use Overview amongst other data sources. A closer look at the data reveals a concerning picture of the extent of drug and alcohol use among its residents:
- Statewide Crisis: There are a total of 2,914 confirmed overdoses in New Jersey, indicating a significant public health crisis.
- Substance Predominance: Fentanyl is overwhelmingly the most common substance involved in overdoses, with 2,266 confirmed cases. This is followed by Heroin with 1,082 confirmed cases.
- Geographical Disparities: Essex County has the highest number of total overdoses (414), while Hunterdon has the lowest (11). This suggests that urban areas might be more affected, but it would require further investigation.
- Fentanyl and Heroin: These substances are the most prevalent in almost all counties, often accounting for the majority of overdoses.
- Other Substances: Cocaine, Methamphetamine, and Benzodiazepine are also present but generally in fewer numbers.
- Alcohol: Ethanol (alcohol) is also a significant contributor, especially in counties like Essex and Atlantic, suggesting that alcohol should not be overlooked in interventions.
New Jersey Overdoses By County In New Jersey
- Essex County: This county not only has the highest total but also the highest Heroin overdoses (182) and very high Cocaine numbers (190).
- Both counties continue to report high overdose deaths, the highest in the state of NJ.
- Essex County had 450 overdose deaths in 2022 which was the most in the state.
- Camden County had 354 overdose deaths in 2022.
- Camden County: This county stands out for its high Fentanyl overdoses (285) and Cocaine numbers (149).
- Atlantic County: Shows a significant number of suspected deaths (255), which is higher than its confirmed overdose substances (171). This could indicate underreporting or delayed confirmations in the confirmed data.
- Bergen County: While not the highest, Bergen has a balanced spread of substance abuse, from Heroin (57) and Fentanyl (110) to Cocaine (36) and Benzodiazepine (41).
- Hunterdon County: This county has the least number of overdoses, indicating either a lower prevalence of drug abuse or perhaps less data reporting.
- Ocean and Monmouth Counties: These counties have high numbers of Oxycodone and Methadone overdoses compared to others, indicating a possible issue with prescription drug abuse.
Overdose Deaths By Drug and By County In New Jersey
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Bergen County Overdose Rates By Drug
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General Substance Abuse
- There were 98,479 hospital admissions for substance abuse treatment in New Jersey during 2019. (NJ-SAMS)
- 68% of all patients admitted to drug rehab centers in New Jersey were male, and 32% were female.
- Camden, Ocean, and Essex counties had the highest rates of admissions.
- 20,651 New Jersey residents entered into treatment for alcohol abuse in 2019, making up 31% of all admissions. (Lakeview Health).
- In 2018, 15.2% of adults in New Jersey reported an episode of binge drinking in the past month, which is below the national average of 18.2%.
Prescription Drug Abuse
- Almost 90% of drug overdoses in 2018 involved opioids, totaling 2,583 fatalities.
- New Jersey providers wrote 38.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions.
Illegal Substance Abuse
- 41,854 New Jersey residents were admitted into substance abuse treatment for heroin addiction in 2019, making up 42% of all admissions.
- 13,423 people in New Jersey used Methadone to overcome addiction to meth or heroin in 2018.
Combined Substance Abuse
- Many patients seek help for addiction to multiple substances, and the risks of serious medical consequences increase when drugs are combined.
According to the New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System (NJ-SAMS), there were 98,479 hospital admissions for substance abuse treatment during 2019. About 68% of all patients were male, and 32% were female. Camden, Ocean, and Essex counties had the highest rates of admissions.
New Jersey Substance Drug Rehab Admissions By County and Drug
|County of Residence||Primary Drug Total||Alcohol||Cocaine/Crack||Heroin||Other Opiates||Marijuana/Hashish||Methamphetamines||Unknown & Other Drugs|
- Treatment Admissions: In 2021, New Jersey saw a staggering 87,745 treatment admissions, underscoring the pressing need for intervention and support. These admissions provide a window into the scale of the problem, with each individual representing a story of struggle, hope, and the pursuit of recovery. (nj.gov)
- Primary Drugs of Choice:
- Alcohol: Leading the list, alcohol accounted for 31,469 (or 36%) of the total admissions, highlighting its pervasive presence in the lives of many New Jersey residents.(nj.gov)
- Heroin: A close second, heroin-related admissions stood at 33,587 (or 38%), reflecting the opioid crisis’s grip on the state.(nj.gov)
- Marijuana, Cocaine, and Others: Other substances, including marijuana (6,569 or 7%), cocaine (4,494 or 5%), and methamphetamines (1,244 or 1%), also contributed significantly to the overall admissions.(nj.gov)
- Demographics of Those Seeking Treatment: Substance abuse does not discriminate. In 2021, males accounted for 60% of the admissions, while females represented 31%. The age groups most affected were those between 25-44 years, emphasizing the impact on New Jersey’s younger population.(nj.gov)
- Referral Sources: The journey to recovery often begins with a helping hand. Over half (53%) of those admitted for treatment in 2021 were self-referred, showcasing the resilience and determination of many to seek help. Other significant referral sources included corrections-related programs (18%) and addiction services programs (10%). (nj.gov)
The numbers paint a vivid picture, but they also underscore the resilience of New Jersey’s communities. Behind each statistic is a testament to the human spirit’s ability to overcome, the dedication of healthcare professionals, and the unwavering support of families and loved ones.
- Highest Admissions: Essex County has the highest overall admissions with 10% of the total, primarily driven by heroin and other opiates.
- Lowest Admissions: Hunterdon County has the lowest overall admissions, making up just 1% of the total.
- Heroin Prevalence: Heroin is a significant issue in many counties, especially in Essex, Atlantic, and Camden.
- Alcohol Admissions: Ocean and Monmouth counties have higher admissions due to alcohol, making up 9% of the total alcohol-related admissions.
- Other Opiates: Camden County has a notably high percentage (13%) of admissions due to other opiates.
- Methamphetamines: Atlantic County has the highest percentage of admissions due to methamphetamines at 12%.
- Unknown & Other Drugs: Essex and Camden counties have higher percentages (11%) of admissions due to unknown and other drugs.
- Variability: Different counties have different primary drugs leading to admissions, indicating that substance abuse issues are not uniform across the state.
New Jersey’s Strategic Role in Drug Distribution
New Jersey’s geographical position, combined with its extensive transportation infrastructure, has inadvertently made it a significant hub for drug transportation and distribution. Here’s a closer look at how the state’s unique characteristics play into this:
- Strategic Location: Nestled between the major cities of New York and Philadelphia, New Jersey’s location makes it a prime transshipment point for drugs. Its proximity to these urban centers means that drugs can be quickly moved and distributed to a vast consumer base. (nj.gov)
- Seaports and Coastline: With a 130-mile coastline and two major seaports (New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia/Camden), the state offers multiple entry points for illicit substances. Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal, among North America’s largest containerized port complexes, often see drugs concealed within legitimate shipments. (nj.gov)
- Airports: New Jersey’s two international airports, Newark International and Atlantic City International, further enhance its role in drug transportation. Newark International, being one of the busiest airports globally, presents both challenges and opportunities for law enforcement agencies trying to intercept drug shipments. (nj.gov)
- Highways and Road Networks: The state’s extensive road network, including major highways like the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 95, facilitates the swift movement of drugs from entry points to distribution centers and then to consumers. (nj.gov)
- Diverse Population Centers: Cities like Newark, Jersey City, and Camden, with their large, ethnically diverse populations, often become focal points for drug distribution. These urban centers, with their dense populations, provide a ready market for drug traffickers. (nj.gov)
While New Jersey’s strategic advantages have contributed to its economic growth and connectivity, they have also inadvertently made it a hotspot for drug trafficking. Recognizing this dual-edged sword is crucial for policymakers and law enforcement agencies as they strategize to combat the drug menace effectively.
Major Drug Threats in New Jersey
While New Jersey grapples with various substances, certain drugs have emerged as dominant threats, deeply impacting communities and straining public health resources:
- Cocaine and Crack: Street gangs distributing powdered cocaine and its potent derivative, crack, pose one of the most significant threats to New Jersey’s citizens. These drugs, known for their highly addictive nature, have led to a surge in violent crimes, with dealers and users often resorting to extreme measures to secure their next fix.
- Heroin: The grip of heroin, particularly South American heroin brought in by Colombian DTOs, is palpable in New Jersey. Accounting for a significant portion of treatment admissions, heroin’s devastating effects ripple through families, workplaces, and communities. The opioid crisis, fueled in part by heroin, has become a public health emergency in the state.
- Marijuana: While marijuana is the most prevalent drug in New Jersey, its users typically do not engage in violent crime. However, the debate around its legalization and potential medicinal use continues to shape the state’s drug narrative.
- Methamphetamine: Available in many counties, methamphetamine, or meth, is primarily distributed in central and southern parts of New Jersey. Known for its destructive effects on users’ physical appearance and mental health, meth remains a concern for law enforcement and health professionals.
- Prescription Opioids and Fentanyl: The rise in prescription opioid misuse has paved the way for synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Often mixed with other drugs to increase potency, fentanyl has been linked to a spike in overdose deaths, making it a silent but deadly threat.
- Heroin And Cocaine Use Above The national Average: The number of federal drug offenders sentenced in New Jersey is consistent with the national average; however, the percentage of heroin- and cocaine-related sentences is much higher in New Jersey than nationwide. Drug offenses composed over 35 percent of all federal sentencing cases in the state in 1999, compared with the national sentencing average of 41 percent. (National Drug Intelligence Center)
- Over 77 percent of all drug sentences in the state were cocaine- or heroin-related, a 20 percent higher ratio than the national average. More significantly, heroin sentences represent 38 percent of all federal sentencing cases, compared with 8 percent nationally. (National Drug Intelligence Center)
Understanding the major drug threats is crucial for targeted interventions. Whether it’s ramping up law enforcement efforts, increasing public awareness campaigns, or enhancing treatment options, a clear grasp of the primary challenges can lead to more effective solutions.
The Impact of Drug Abuse on New Jersey’s Health (Mortality / Overdose Rates)
The repercussions of drug abuse extend beyond the individual user, affecting families, communities, and the state’s healthcare system. The health implications of substance misuse in New Jersey are both immediate and long-term:
- Overdose and Mortality: The rise in drug use, particularly opioids and synthetic substances like fentanyl, has led to an alarming increase in overdose deaths. These tragic incidents underscore the lethal nature of drug misuse and the urgent need for intervention.
- HIV and Other Infections: Intravenous drug use, especially among heroin users, has been linked to a higher risk of HIV transmission. Shared needles and unsafe “shooting up” practices contribute to the spread of this and other blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis.
- Mental Health Implications: Substance abuse often goes hand-in-hand with mental health challenges. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, or more severe conditions like schizophrenia, the interplay between drugs and mental health can be a vicious cycle, with one exacerbating the other.
- Strain on Healthcare Systems: Emergency rooms and healthcare facilities across New Jersey frequently deal with drug-related cases, from overdoses to complications arising from prolonged drug use. This not only strains resources but also highlights the broader public health implications of the drug crisis.
- Economic Impact: Beyond the direct health consequences, drug abuse has economic ramifications. From lost productivity to increased healthcare costs and law enforcement expenditures, the financial toll of substance misuse is significant.
Recognizing the profound health impact of drug abuse is essential for shaping public health policies and interventions. By addressing the root causes and providing timely care, New Jersey can mitigate the adverse health outcomes associated with drug misuse.
Drug-Related Crime Statistics
Drug Trafficking Organizations and Street Gangs
The drug landscape in New Jersey is not solely defined by individual users and their struggles. At the heart of the drug crisis are organized entities that facilitate the transportation, distribution, and sale of illicit substances:
- Colombian DTOs: Dominating the cocaine and South American heroin markets, Colombian Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) have established robust networks in New Jersey. Their influence is evident in the sheer volume of these drugs available in the state, making them a primary target for law enforcement.
- Street Gangs: The urban centers of New Jersey, particularly cities like Newark and Jersey City, have seen a rise in street gang activity. Gangs such as the Bloods, Latin Kings, and Ñetas have entrenched themselves in the drug distribution chain, often resorting to violence to maintain control and expand their territories.
- The Five Percenters: This cultural group, while not a traditional street gang, has been associated with drug distribution in certain areas of New Jersey. Their involvement adds another layer of complexity to the state’s drug narrative.
- Challenges for Law Enforcement: The organized nature of these entities, combined with their adaptability and resources, poses significant challenges for law enforcement. Efforts to dismantle these groups require multi-agency collaboration, intelligence-sharing, and community involvement.
- Community Impact: The presence of DTOs and street gangs has ripple effects in the communities they operate in. From increased violence to the normalization of drug use, their influence can be detrimental to the social fabric of neighborhoods.
- Your chance of being a victim of drug-related crime in Jersey City may be as high as 1 in 118 in the east neighborhoods, or as low as 1 in 860 in the southeast part of the city. (Crime Grade)
Addressing the challenges posed by DTOs and street gangs is crucial for any comprehensive strategy to combat drug abuse in New Jersey. By understanding their operations, networks, and influence, policymakers and law enforcement can devise targeted interventions to disrupt their activities and protect communities.
Alcohol Abuse in New Jersey
While much attention is given to illicit drugs, alcohol remains a significant concern in New Jersey. Its legal status and social acceptance often mask the profound impact it has on individuals, families, and communities:
- Prevalence: In 2021, alcohol accounted for a significant portion of treatment admissions in New Jersey, with 31,469 individuals seeking help. This figure underscores the pervasive nature of alcohol misuse in the state.
- Health Implications: Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a host of health issues, including liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and cognitive impairments. Additionally, alcohol plays a role in many accidents, from traffic collisions to workplace injuries.
- Social and Economic Impact: Beyond the individual, alcohol abuse affects families and communities. Domestic violence, child neglect, and financial hardships are often linked to excessive alcohol consumption. The economic toll, from lost productivity to healthcare costs, further emphasizes the need for intervention.
- Youth and Alcohol: Underage drinking remains a concern in New Jersey. Early exposure to alcohol can lead to addiction in later life and has been associated with poor academic performance, risky behaviors, and mental health challenges.
- State Initiatives: Recognizing the challenges posed by alcohol abuse, New Jersey has implemented various initiatives to curb its impact. From awareness campaigns targeting youth to stricter regulations on sales and consumption, the state is actively working to reduce the harm caused by excessive alcohol use.
Alcohol’s ubiquity in social and cultural settings makes addressing its misuse a complex challenge. However, with concerted efforts from policymakers, healthcare professionals, and communities, New Jersey can pave the way for a healthier relationship with this widely consumed substance.
New Jersey at a Glance: Quick Facts
New Jersey, often referred to as the “Garden State,” boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and industries. But to truly understand the backdrop against which the drug and alcohol abuse narrative unfolds, it’s essential to familiarize oneself with some key demographic and geographical details:
- Population: With a population of 8.4 million residents, New Jersey stands as the ninth most populous state in the U.S., making its substance abuse challenges even more pressing given the sheer number of lives potentially affected.
- Economic Indicators: The state’s median income in 1999 was $49,930, with an unemployment rate of 4.6%. These economic factors play a role in the broader picture of substance abuse, as financial stresses can sometimes contribute to addiction.
- Geography: Spanning 7,419 square miles, New Jersey might be compact, but its strategic location has made it a hub for various activities, including drug trafficking. The state boasts a 130-mile coastline, with two major seaports: New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia/Camden. These ports, especially Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal, rank among North America’s largest containerized port complexes.
- Transportation: New Jersey’s two international airports, Newark International and Atlantic City International, further enhance its role as a significant transit point. Newark International, in particular, stands out as the ninth busiest airport in the U.S. and the fifteenth busiest globally. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation and is strategically located as a drug transshipment point and distribution center.
- Principal Cities: Cities like Newark, Jersey City, Camden, Elizabeth, and Paterson are not just economic and cultural hubs but also focal points in the state’s battle against drug and alcohol abuse.
- Industries: New Jersey’s principal industries range from agriculture and petrochemicals to manufacturing and research & development. The diversity of its industries means a varied workforce, each facing its unique challenges related to substance abuse.
Understanding these foundational details about New Jersey sets the stage for a deeper exploration into the state’s drug and alcohol addiction landscape. As we delve further, it becomes evident that the state’s unique characteristics play a significant role in shaping its substance abuse narrative.
Efforts to Combat Drug and Alcohol Abuse in New Jersey
Facing the multifaceted challenges of drug and alcohol abuse, New Jersey has taken proactive steps to address the crisis. From state-led initiatives to community-driven programs, the efforts are comprehensive and multifaceted:
- Statewide Initiatives: The New Jersey Department of Health has been at the forefront of the battle against substance abuse. Through various programs, they aim to reduce drug and alcohol-related harm, promote recovery, and prevent relapse.
- Treatment Centers: Facilities like Valley Spring play a pivotal role in the recovery journey of many New Jersey residents. Offering specialized care, these centers provide a safe environment for individuals to overcome their addictions and rebuild their lives.
- Awareness Campaigns: Recognizing the power of information, the state has launched numerous awareness campaigns targeting specific demographics, such as youth and high-risk communities. These campaigns aim to educate individuals about the dangers of substance abuse and the resources available for help.
- Collaboration with Law Enforcement: Tackling the drug crisis requires a multi-pronged approach. Law enforcement agencies collaborate with health departments and community organizations to disrupt drug trafficking networks, provide support to affected communities, and ensure the safety of residents.
- Community Engagement: Grassroots movements and community-driven initiatives have emerged as powerful tools in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse. By engaging local residents, these efforts ensure that interventions are tailored to the unique needs of each community.
- Legislative Measures: New Jersey’s lawmakers have also played a role by enacting legislation aimed at curbing substance abuse. From stricter regulations on prescription opioids to funding for treatment programs, legislative measures provide a framework for a coordinated response.
The fight against drug and alcohol abuse in New Jersey is a collective effort, with each initiative playing a crucial role in shaping a brighter, healthier future for the state’s residents.
- Increasing Fatalities Due To Fentanyl: Drug-related fatalities involving fentanyl increased from 34% to approximately 80% between 2016 and 2020. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- Decrease in pure heroin: During the same time period, the suspected heroin samples
containing only heroin decreased from 90% to 7%. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- Heroin containing fentanyl: From 2016 to 2020, the number of suspected heroin samples
submitted for lab testing that contained fentanyl increased from 8% to 91%. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- More than 50% of both treatment admissions and law enforcement suspected overdose incidents involved individuals between the ages of 25 and 44. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- Sports-Related Injuries: In 2 of the 7 cases, reviewed by the OFRT were of individuals suffered a youth sports-related injury and were prescribed opioids. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- Age Group: More than 50% of both treatment admissions and law enforcement suspected overdose incidents involved individuals between the ages of 25 and 44. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
- Benzodiazepines Are A High Contributor To Overdose: Benzodiazepines were listed as contributing to the cause of death in nearly a quarter (24%) of Bergen County drug-related deaths. (Bergen County Overdose Review Team)
|Year||Overdoses||LE Narcan Deployments||LE Narcan Saves||Drug Related Fatalities|
Multiple governing bodies have recommended an increase in addiction treatment in Bergen County NJ.
“We must sound the alarms. You have to assume that any drug bought on the street – whether powder or pill – contains fentanyl and can kill you.”Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella
“The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to combating the deadly effects of fentanyl through targeting suppliers and traffickers of narcotics. Although fentanyl has plagued our state for several years, it is now being seen in both recreational and black market medications and pills.”BCPO Chief Jason Love
What Is The Path Forward For New Jersey’s Fight Against Substance Abuse?
The drug and alcohol abuse landscape in New Jersey is complex, shaped by a myriad of factors ranging from geographical location to socio-economic conditions. While the statistics paint a concerning picture, they also highlight the resilience and determination of New Jersey’s communities, healthcare professionals, and policymakers.
Behind every number is a story of struggle, hope, and recovery. The efforts to combat substance abuse in the state are a testament to New Jersey’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of its residents. From state-led initiatives to community-driven programs, the collective response is both heartening and inspiring.
However, the journey is far from over. As the state continues to grapple with the challenges posed by drug and alcohol abuse, it’s essential for residents and policymakers to stay informed, proactive, and united in their efforts. By understanding the scale of the problem and the resources available, New Jersey can pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for all its residents.
Empower Your Journey: Choose Valley Spring Recovery
In the face of addiction, taking the first step towards recovery can be the most challenging yet transformative decision one can make. At Valley Spring Recovery, we understand the intricacies of substance abuse and the profound impact it has on individuals and their loved ones. Our dedicated team of professionals is committed to providing comprehensive, compassionate care tailored to each individual’s unique needs.
If you or a loved one is grappling with addiction, remember that help is just a call away. Choose Valley Spring Recovery and embark on a journey towards healing, hope, and a brighter future. Your path to recovery starts here.
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