Substance Abuse Trends in New Jersey

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Across the United States, and more specifically in New Jersey, the nation has been plagued by a major public health crisis due to the widespread availability of opioids and other illegal drugs. The Garden State is not only famous for family fun nights at the Atlantic City boardwalk but now this state is also an epicenter of the crippling substance abuse epidemic our country is currently facing. The opioid epidemic swept through our nation, leaving behind the wreckage of addicted individuals seeking their next fix. New Jersey has been haunted by alarming substance abuse trends and statistics amongst its residents for over a decade.

Substance Abuse Statistics in New Jersey

According to New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, in 2018 there were 89,629 substance abuse treatment admissions. According to the statistics provided in this report, 67% were male and 33% were female with the highest number of admissions ranging in ages from 35-44. Ocean, Camden, Monmouth, and Essex had the highest rates of addiction treatment admissions in New Jersey.

A WalletHub report revealed that New Jersey ranks 22nd among the states with the worst drug abuse problems in the country. However, the state of New Jersey ranks number one for having the highest percentage of teenagers offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property. These findings shed light on the growing substance abuse issues in New Jersey. High proportions of diverse populations, abundant transportation facilities, street gangs, and locational advantages contribute to the mass amounts of drug trafficking and distribution in New Jersey.

Drug Trafficking and Distribution in New Jersey

Seeking to escape the higher levels of law enforcement in the big city, drug dealers have moved from New York City and into the smaller towns and rural areas of New Jersey. Some dealers are looking for new customers in uncharted territories, particularly traffickers pushing heroin. Street gang members, such as the Crips, are known to recruit new members in the rural towns in New Jersey. The Bloods street gang has been increasing its control of drug trafficking in these smaller towns, ultimately cultivating higher levels of violence and other crimes.

Over the last few years, cocaine prices have been fluctuating. The increase in wholesale prices, as well as the opioid epidemic, has resulted in dealers distributing heroin instead of cocaine. Heroin is much cheaper and the demand for heroin is also much higher. This vicious cycle has resulted in higher rates of addiction in New Jersey and the need for more addiction treatment.

Patterns of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction in New Jersey

Throughout the U.S., many states face the crippling effects of alcoholism and drug addiction. Located between the Philadelphia metropolitan area and New York City, New Jersey lies between two hotspots for drug trafficking and consumption on the East Coast. The burden of alcoholism and drug addiction continues to plague New Jersey residents.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics in New Jersey

Alcohol accounted for over a quarter of substance abuse treatment admissions in 2018. These staggering statistics put alcohol in the number two spot as the most abused substance in New Jersey.

  • 25,069 individuals were admitted into substance abuse rehab in New Jersey for alcohol abuse.
  • 30.5% of those admissions into rehab for alcoholism were female and 69.5% were males
  • Approximately 250,000 individuals ages 12-20 reported to have consumed alcohol in the month prior to the study.

Prescription Drug Abuse in New Jersey

Millions of Americans are prescribed legal opioids to help manage chronic pain and other health complications. However, many of these prescription opioids are highly addictive and have propelled opioid addiction in New Jersey. Some of the most commonly abused prescription opioids include oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Anti-anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines, are also highly addictive prescription drugs. Benzodiazepines can be extremely dangerous when mixed with other prescription drugs such as opiates, alcohol, or heroin. Prescription drugs are often obtained legally but then sold on the black market in New Jersey.

In January 2017, an executive order was signed by the New Jersey governor, declaring opioid drug abuse a statewide crisis. This order allocated funds to prevention and treatment resources. Also in 2017, a law was passed that required prescriptions for opioids to only be written for 5-day supplies, except for in special cases. Approximately 70% of New Jersey teens report abusing prescription drugs that they have acquired by a friend or family member.

Illegal Drug Abuse in New Jersey

Illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine continue to wreak havoc in New Jersey. Landing in the number one spot for the most abused drug in New Jersey, heroin abuse makes up 44% of all substance abuse treatment admissions. According to the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, New Jersey is known for distributing the cheapest and most potent heroin in the country.

The production of meth and cocaine in homemade labs produce highly flammable and toxic fumes that are potentially fatal for local New Jersey communities. There were over 4,500 treatment admissions for cocaine in the Garden State in 2018. Furthermore, these drugs have spread into rural communities within New Jersey.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment in New Jersey Today

As a result of widespread addiction, there are also immense treatment options available across the state. Whether you’re looking for help for yourself or a loved one, our addiction specialists will connect you with the most experienced and acclaimed drug and alcohol rehab centers in the state. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.

Medically Reviewed: June 25, 2020

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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