Drug Addiction Trends in New Jersey

Drug Addiction Trends in New Jersey

Abuse of substances has plagued humanity since history was recorded. However, the current torrent of addiction is unprecedented. The ill-effects of being addicted to drugs or alcohol is widely disseminated – educational and prevention programs,  lectures informing students of its consequences, and myriad movies that have portrayed the negative impact of addiction on celebrities.

Despite increased awareness, over 36 million people worldwide reportedly suffered from substance use disorders in the last year, as per the 2021 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Substance abuse status in New Jersey

Within America, New Jersey in particular has been impacted by the widespread drug use of its citizens. This is likely due to the easy availability of illegal substances such as heroin as well as legal painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone in the state due to it being on the route to New York City from the south. Many Drug treatment centers in NJ provide treatment to individuals struggling with addiction, but addiction is a chronic disease and, quite often, the journey from addiction to long-term recovery takes a jagged path.

According to surveys, the current status of the prevalence of substance use disorders in New Jersey are reflected in the following ways:

  • 9 opioid prescriptions in New Jersey were written for every 100 people in 2018, with the rate being the lowest it had ever been since data could be accessed in 2006
  • 1% of men and 11.7% of women were reported to have an episode of excessive alcohol consumption in 2018
  • 42% of individuals admitted for drug abuse treatment in 2019 were afflicted with heroin addiction
  • New Jersey Substance Monitoring System (NJ-SAMS) revealed that there were 98,479 admissions for addiction treatment in 2019 with 68% of individuals suffering from substance use disorders being male and 32% female. The counties of Camden, Ocean, and Essex were the ones with the highest number of admissions.

Effects of Covid-19 on drug addiction trends

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increase in drug and alcohol use across the world, with local, outpatient treatments rising in popularity due to government restrictions on public movement. Stress due to social isolation, difficulty accessing treatment, and worsening mental health were the key reasons.

Deaths due to alcohol or overdose in New Jersey reached a high of 3046 lives in 2020, as compared to the 2,914 deaths in 2019. Most of these were caused by opioid overdose. This can be directly linked to relapse or vulnerability to addiction as millions of people lost their jobs as well as loved ones to Covid-19 in the last two years. Drug rehab centers in New Jersey also faced hurdles during the pandemic, keeping afflicted individuals from receiving addiction treatment.

Impact of substance abuse

Besides causing thousands of deaths every year, substance abuse also affects day-to-day functioning. It affects an individual’s ability to perform regular functions or keep up with responsibilities. Furthermore, substances such as tobacco, alcohol, or drugs lead to health complications such as chronic liver disease, cardiac problems, as well as respiratory diseases.

Moreover, many accidents that hurts individuals who did not abuse drugs or alcohol are caused by individuals driving under influence; suicides have also been associated with both drug and alcohol use. Drug or alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and improper development of the fetus. This is because drugs like cocaine permeate the placenta and limit blood flow to the embryo.

Drug’s, such as cocaine are easily available in all corners of New Jersey, be it Livingston or Monroe, Union or Phillipsburg, Somerset or Manalapan, Colts Neck or Toms River. Other drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine also being at low prices. Such easy availability has led to casual consumption of drugs across the state.

  • 3,888 individuals in New Jersey aged 18-21 were admitted for substance abuse treatment in 2019
  • 13,423 users resorted to Methadone to cope with meth and heroin addiction in 2018

Habitual consumption affects parts of a user’s brain, hindering their judgment and decision-making skills. Moreover, constant consumption also creates withdrawal symptoms that cause users to become stressed when a particular drug is not available.

Many users continue consumption as a way to gain relief rather than for pleasure. It has also been found that substance abuse is initially formed as a result of genetic and environmental factors, and not from the drugs themselves.

Measures taken in New Jersey to combat substance abuse

To combat the public health issue of substance abuse, Governor Murphy’s administration in New Jersey has implemented comprehensive measures across the state. This includes increased accessibility to drug rehab clinics in New Jersey, medication assisted treatments, or MAT, harm reduction, and increased prevention efforts.

Collaborative and data-driven programs such as Prescription Drug Monitoring, Drug Take-Back days, Drug-Free Communities, and National Anti-Drug Campaigns have been actively set up on the state level to facilitate recovery, and modern treatment programs aimed towards supporting recovery and reducing probability of relapse and preventing addiction offers hope for a better future wherein residents can lead safer and better lives.


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Ketamine is a drug of abuse and is classified as a short-acting (30-60 minutes) dissociative anesthetic with hallucinogenic effects. It is known as a “club” drug and is popular among teens and young adults. It distorts perceptions of sight and sound and makes the user feel disconnected and not in control. Street names of ketamine include Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, Special La Coke, Super Acid, Super K, and Vitamin K.

However, ketamine has legitimate medicinal use as an anesthetic, mainly in a veterinarian setting. Recently, FDA approved the use of a controlled dose of ketamine to provide relief for humans from treatment resistant depression. The ketamine-based medication to treat depression is sold under the brand name Spravato.

Street ketamine is produced in liquid form or as a white powder. Ketamine is often snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products. In some cities in New Jersey, such as New Brunswick, Howell or Plainfield, ketamine has been reported to be injected intramuscularly.

Low-dose ketamine intoxication leads to impairment in attention, memory and learning ability. Large dose reactions include dream-like states and altered perceptions or hallucinations. These are similar to those associated with phencyclidine, or PCP. High-dose ketamine can also result in delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression and, potentially, fatal respiratory problems.

Ketamine Withdrawal

When an individual who abuses ketamine regularly stops abusing the drug abruptly. He/she could suffer withdrawal symptoms. On the psychological side, ketamine withdrawal symptoms include aggressive or violent tendencies, psychosis, schizophrenia-like behaviors and suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety and paranoia. Physical ketamine withdrawal symptoms include confusion, loss of coordination, delirium, hallucinations, difficulty focusing, irregular heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, sleep and speech disturbances.

Fortunately, New Jersey has plenty of options for ketamine withdrawal treatment, whether you live in Monmouth County or Ocean, Somerset or Union, Hunterdon or Morris, Sussex or Essex.

Preventing Relapse on Ketamine

It is all about people, places and things!

The first thing to do is avoid risky places. Do not hang out with the same people you abused ketamine with. Find new activities that will keep you from getting bored. AA/NA groups are a great place to find new friends who are on the same sober path as you. Together you can plan activities that keep you sober.

Have a support structure in place. Identify individuals who are supportive of you and provide an uplifting ambience. Life is sometimes tough and triggers and stressors will come at you from all directions. You cannot cope with them alone, especially when you are vulnerable directly after finishing treatment. Definitely find a sponsor in the self-help group you attend. Luckily, AA/NA meetings are held all across NJ – Marlboro, Marlton, Cherry, Hill, Middlesex, Patterson, Howell, New Brunswick, Westfield, Livingston, Newton, etc.

Keep busy. Sometimes finding a job is not easy when you are in recovery. There may be charges incurred while using that is marring your otherwise clean record. Other time DUI and other charges may be causing a limitation in mobility. In most situations, volunteer your time makes sense as it provides you with a clean start. Remember, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop!


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Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant that is native to South America. Cocaine is an stimulant and it is addictive. Cocaine has valid health care uses, as a local anesthesia for some surgeries, however, recreational use of cocaine is illegal. Cocaine is sold on the street as fine, white crystal powder. Street dealers usually mix it with other similar looking substances, such as talcum powder, corn starch, or all-purpose flour in order to dilute the potency of cocaine and increase profits. Drug dealers may also mix it with other substances of abuse, such as stimulant amphetamine, synthetic opioids, fentanyl, or natural opioids, heroin. Mixing substances increases the potency of the drug and could result in overdose or even death, as the user is not aware of the “cocktail” in the product he/she is buying. Sometimes, cocaine is process by drug dealers to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine” or “crack cocaine”). The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound of the crystal rocks when they are heated.

Cocaine can be snorted, dissolved and injected into the blood stream or rubbed onto the gums. Crack cocaine is heated to produce vapors that are inhaled. Some users also inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called “Speedball.”
Individuals who abuse cocaine often indulge in binges – abusing the drug repeatedly within a short period of time and in increasingly higher doses. Such rapid intake of cocaine helps to maintain the high.

Like most other substances of abuse, cocaine sharply increases the levels of dopamine in brain circuits, delivering euphoria. Usually dopamine recycles back into the cell that released it, which helps to shut off the signal between nerve cells. But, cocaine blocks this from happening. As a result, large amounts of dopamine builds up between two nerve cells causing a flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuits. Such an intense high, drives a strong addiction. Like other drugs of abuse, tolerance to the drug builds and increasingly larger doses of cocaine are needed to achieve a similar high.

The addiction can be both physical and psychological. Short-term physical effects include sharply increased happiness and energy, mental alertness, hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch, irritability, paranoia (unreasonable distrust). Psychologically it could lead to higher self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment.

Individuals suffering an addiction to cocaine can potentially overdose on cocaine. So accessing treatment for cocaine dependence is highly recommended. On the positive side, individuals who suffer from cocaine addiction in New Jersey have plenty of treatment options. Whether they live in Marlton or Cherry Hill, Long Branch or Monmouth Junction, New Brunswick or East Brunswick, Sayreville or Montville, Union or Bridgewater, Califon or Phillipsburg access to treatment is fast and easy. International Day against Drug Abuse. Young human hand trying to reach cooked heroin spoon on grungy concrete floor. Drugs addiction and withdrawal symptoms concept. Copy space.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms

The initial signs of cocaine addiction are rather mild as you may not realise that you are becoming addicted until it turns serious. The severity of the addiction depends on the amount of cocaine ingested and frequency of abuse.
As always denial in the initial stages of addiction is common. Signs of addiction include:

● Over excitement
● Dilated pupils
● Irregular sleeping patterns
● Risky and dangerous choices
● Major mood swings
● Paranoia and anxiety

Individuals who abuse cocaine regularly at frequent intervals may exhibit cocaine withdrawal symptoms such as:

● Problems in breathing and frequent chest pains.
● Borderline serious depression and including suicidal ideation.
● Isolating behaviors.
* Fatigue.
● High body temperature and high blood pressure.
● Dilation of pupils and septum damage.
● Nausea and seizures
● For pregnant women, excess usage of cocaine can also lead to serious complications in the baby and may result in a miscarriage.
● Unstable thoughts and poor decision making.
● Heart problems or stroke.
● Financial issues.

Although it is not easy, addiction to cocaine can be overcome, with treatment.

Treatment for cocaine addiction

Unlike opiates such as fentanyl, heroin or opioid pain pills, there is no medication to directly address cocaine withdrawal symptoms or cravings. Treatment for addiction to cocaine is focused on managing the “crash” and support medications that may provide a level of comfort from cocaine withdrawal. Such treatment provides considerable relief to individuals suffering from an addiction to cocaine.


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