New Jersey may get a bad rep, but for the people who live there and visit there, it is a gorgeous state full of lush greenery, upscale homes, miles of pristine coastline, rolling mountains, and charming main streets. The dark side is New Jersey substance abuse that runs rampant throughout these unsuspecting communities and casts a dark shadow on all the otherwise sleepy and peaceful towns.
New Jersey Substance Abuse Problem Centers Around Heroin
The same affluent communities that host universities like Princeton, apple picking in the fall, and beach fun in the summer are simultaneously hotbeds for drug use, especially heroin. In 2014 alone, there were almost 800 heroin-related overdose deaths in New Jersey, which is a state so small you could easily drive from one end to the other in just a few hours.
In some towns in New Jersey, heroin use is up to three times the national average. Within the state, Ocean County leads the charge, with more people using drugs than anywhere else. This proves that drug use is no longer segregated within poor, inner-city communities, but rather it is spreading into the more affluent suburban areas as well.
Why is Drug Use So Rampant
Opioid use is a problem through the entire country. Some states, like New Jersey, have a higher rate of use, but no matter where you go, it can be found. Many heroin addicts start by abusing prescription painkillers because they are in the same family of drugs. Often, these pain pills come directly from doctors who overprescribe them to patients with little to no warning about the potential deadly consequences of addiction and misuse.
Anyone can get their hands on medications like Vicodin and Percocet. If it doesn’t come from a doctor, it is just as easy to get pills from classmates, colleagues, or someone else’s medicine cabinet. Teenagers are often having pill parties where they all bring whatever pills they can get their hands on and take them, not knowing what they are, and often mixing them together, which can be deadly.
When pills run out, heroin is sadly a viable option because it is cheaper than many medications and easier to obtain. Many people find themselves hooked on heroin this way. It is actually said that four out of five heroin users started with prescription pain medication.
Unfortunately, drug use will most likely always be a problem in many communities. All we can do is educate our loved ones about the dangers and stay vigilant about signs of use. And, if a person is struggling with addiction, it is important to get them the help they need as soon as possible.