If all of the active heroin and opioid users in the garden state were concentrated in one city, Herointown would be the fourth largest in New Jersey. That’s more than 128,000 active users, and the town’s population would include people of all ages, races, and walks of life. Statistically, you would know some of them personally.

Greetings from Herointown, NJ

A sweeping new report by NJ Advance Media looks at some of the sobering statistics of this fictional town they’ve put together based on the real numbers of deaths and addiction found in the state over the past ten years. They also collected thousands of stories from people who have been affected by the drug epidemic, including users, those in recovery, family members, loved ones, and friends. Here are some of those stories and statistics.

By The Numbers

5,217: The number of heroin deaths in New Jersey since 2004.

781: The number of heroin deaths in New Jersey in 2014. It’s been climbing for the past four years.

54%: The percentage of those deaths that are people under forty years of age.

51,721: The number of drug arrests in New Jersey in 2014, which is 17% of all arrests in the state.

184,038: The number of addicted patients admitted into NJ substance abuse treatment facilities for heroin or opioid abuse since 2010.

72.3%: The percentage of those who are receiving treatment that are white—a sharp increase in the past several years.

193%: The percent increase in rates of Hepatitis C in New Jersey since 2002. Hep C is contracted intravenously and is shared when needles are reused.

5: The number of counties in New Jersey where the heroin death rates far outpace the number of treatment beds available. This is most dramatic in Camden and Cape May counties, but also true in Ocean, Union, and Middlesex County.

In Their Words

The stories shared by the former or currents users, and their friends and loved ones tell of experiences of fear, confusion, addiction, and so much pain. There is guilt felt amongst all parties and their suffering is universal. It is spoken of as a disease, that each one of them has felt trapped in hell. For many who have lost people to heroin or opioids, it’s not just one loved one but many. These are their words.

“I lived a horrific nightmare which I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.” Christian, 48, Toms River

“It’s not about status, it’s not about race or gender, or affluence…it’s nondiscriminatory. It is your neighbor. Your community.” Melissa, 39, Bordentown

“I’m from Cape May where everyone thinks that life is great and everyone’s happy, that no ‘real’ problems ever happen. Well, this is sadly untrue.” –William, 30, Villas

“I found him dead from an overdose…to this day I cannot forget him lying in bed, and it haunts me all the time.” –Irene, 78, Audobon

“Opiates don’t just ruin your health and your wallet; they take your soul and everything around you.” Rick, 23, Trenton

“I had two options: die or fight. I fought.” – Kelly, 28, Vernon

Those surveyed also provided a wealth of suggestions on how to ease the crisis, including ways that the state and congress could reform drug laws, the work that families and the New Jersey public can support those suffering, as well as the private work done by recovery centers like ours. If the horrors of addiction have touched your life, give us a call at the Discovery Institute today. We’re here, and we can help. Call us: 800-714-2175. Free consultations are always confidential.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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