What Are the Most Commonly Used Drugs in New Jersey?

Drug abuse is a significant issue in New Jersey, with a history that stretches back decades. The state has seen the prevalence of drugs change significantly over time, with new drug trends emerging to replace old ones. The most commonly abused drugs in New Jersey include:
  • Cocaine.
  • Marijuana.
  • Heroin.
  • Fentanyl.
  • Methamphetamine.
These drugs enter the state through various means, including major highways, ports, and airports. Many also come through the mail or from drug labs within the state or neighboring areas. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, New Pathway Counseling can help you heal your body, mind, and spirit to attain long-term recovery. We offer outpatient, intensive outpatient, and adolescent day programs and medically-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms and curb the cravings that lead to relapse. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

Efforts Towards Substance Abuse in New Jersey

The state offers a range of programs, such as the Substance Abuse Initiative and the New Jersey Addiction Services Helpline, that provide a range of services. It has also implemented various prevention initiatives, including drug take-back programs and statewide drug education programs. The state is also taking steps to provide alternatives and support to those struggling with addiction through various programs, behavioral health centers, and local resources.

How Are Drugs Getting Into the State?

Historically, New Jersey has been a vital transit point for drug trafficking due to its location between major drug-seizing cities, such as New York and Philadelphia. Its busy seaports and two international airports add to the opportunities for drug transactions. The state has also been home to several significant drug operations, most notably during the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Today, drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl are major threats to public health, with a rising number of opioid-related overdose deaths in recent years. One of the significant contributors to the illicit drug trade in New Jersey is street gangs such as the Latin Kings, Ñetas, and the Five Percenters. These groups have large, established networks that allow them to move vast quantities of drugs into the state through various channels. One such channel is drug mules, who carry the drugs in small amounts across the border. These mules are often desperate individuals who are willing to take significant risks for a small payout.

Demographics of Drug Users in New Jersey

Substance abuse is not limited to a specific demographic in New Jersey, as it disproportionately affects all age groups, races, and genders. The Behavioral Health Barometer report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that in 2019, 17.7% of adults in New Jersey had a mental illness, and 3.9% had a substance use disorder. The report also reveals that substance abuse is prevalent among young adults aged 18-25, with marijuana being the most commonly used drug in this age group. The New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety offers the following data:
  • Most drug overdose deaths in 2019 involved opioids, with 83% involving fentanyl.
  • The northern part of the state had the highest drug overdose fatality rate (25.5 deaths per 100,000 residents).
  • The age group with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2019 were adults ages 30-34.
  • The rate of drug overdose deaths was highest among Black residents, followed by White residents.
  • In 2019, there were 96,309 admissions to substance abuse treatment programs in New Jersey. Opioids were the primary substance of abuse in 46% of admissions.

Which City in New Jersey Is Known for the Highest Drug Use?

While many New Jersey towns have been affected by drug abuse and addiction, Jersey City stands out for its high rates of substance abuse and drug-related deaths. New Jersey’s four largest cities — Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Paterson — are located in the New York and New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking areas and have high rates of drug addiction and substance abuse. In 2015, Jersey City had 96 reported incidents of substance abuse, the second-highest in the state. The statewide Substance Abuse Overview also shows that in 2019, there were 98,628 substance abuse treatment admissions in New Jersey, with over 7,300 admissions for cocaine abuse and 5,340 for marijuana. Additionally, New Jersey has seen a rapid increase in opioid and heroin addiction, with more than 5,000 reported deaths in the last ten years.

Drug Use, Admissions, & Overdose Statistics in New Jersey

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 300,000 New Jersey residents suffered from a substance use disorder in 2020. The number of heroin-related deaths in New Jersey has tripled since 2010, with over 1,500 overdose deaths reported in 2020. The Substance Abuse 2020 Overview reported that substance abuse admissions numbered 36,103, with Essex County leading the way with 7,226. In 2021 the overdose death rate was 32.4 per 100,000. These numbers underscore the seriousness of substance abuse in the state, but a look at the cost of addiction is even more sobering.

The High Cost of Substance Abuse to New Jersey’s Economy

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, substance abuse-related expenses total over $400 billion annually. These expenses include healthcare costs, incarceration, work productivity loss, and lost life due to overdose. In New Jersey alone, the direct healthcare costs associated with substance abuse are over $150 billion annually, driven by inpatient and outpatient hospital expenses. Substance abuse contributes to crime rates and increases the demand for law enforcement services. In addition, many people who struggle with substance abuse cannot work, contributing to unemployment and social welfare costs. Substance abuse is a major cause of absenteeism, injuries, and accidents resulting from impaired judgment in those who do work. These factors, coupled with the need for treatment, result in lower productivity and reduced job opportunities that, in turn, decrease economic growth.

Contact Us Today

The cost of substance abuse cannot be measured simply in dollars and cents. Addiction results in loss of workforce productivity and higher healthcare costs and takes a terrible toll on personal relationships. While cocaine, marijuana, heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine are the the top five drugs used for recreational purposes in New Jersey, addiction to any substance can turn your life upside down. No matter the substance, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at New Pathway Counseling. We provide comprehensive outpatient treatment, including medically assisted treatment, telehealth, and our unique SOARFIT program, which integrates physical fitness into your recovery program to maximize your wellness. Contact us today to talk about how we can help you overcome your addiction and restore body, mind, and spirit.

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