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Rising Opioid Use in New Jersey

The number of individuals whose lives have been claimed by the national opioid epidemic continues to climb. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, a reported 42,249 people died due to opioid overdose in the United States. In fact, the opioid epidemic has spread so far and wide throughout the country, that it has been declared a public health emergency.

One of the states hit hardest by this crisis is New Jersey, which saw 1,409 opioid-related deaths in 2016. That number put the state above the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people, with 16 deaths per 100,000. In addition, according to NJ.com, the state is “on track to exceed 3,000 drug deaths in 2018, which would set a record for the third-straight year.”

In an interview with a New Jersey radio station, Terry Newmyer, the president of the Opioid Research Institute, put it bluntly: “The Garden State is absolutely in danger of becoming the cemetery state.”

Dangers of Opioids for New Jersey Residents

Opioids, both illegal (heroin) and prescription (fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine), have powerful, often irreversible effects on the mind and body for those who become addicted to them. While these side effects can include respiratory depression, insomnia, anxiety, muscle/bone pain, and severe cravings, they can also lead to the risk of overdose and death.

Adding to the above risks, the injection of opioids, such as heroin (whose side effects can also include skin infections, pneumonia, and collapsed veins), makes users vulnerable to contracting HIV. In 2015, a reported 9.1 percent of the 39,513 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to injection drug use.

Unfortunately, these drugs create a reward loop in the brain that keeps users wanting more and convinces them that they need ever increasing amounts. To make matters worse, many opioid addictions start out as solutions for real issues, such as pain relief for major injuries or surgeries.

That’s why getting support to those struggling with opioid addiction in New Jersey, and throughout the United States, is essential.

Help for NJ’s Opioid Epidemic is Available

While New Jersey’s statistics in the opioid epidemic are staggering, there is hope and help out there. Trenton Healthcare provides urgent, affordable, and caring outpatient methadone treatment services in one of the hardest hit regions of the state.

Trenton Healthcare Clinic (which accepts New Jersey Medicaid) provides assistance to all of those in need of care, regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, HIV status, sexual orientation, gender, age, or finances. While there, patients go through detoxification programs that can range from 31 to 180 days.

These programs are aimed to help patients withdrawal from dangerous opiates in a safe, secure, medically-monitored environment. They also lay the groundwork for a sober life outside of treatment, through counseling, education, and examinations.

Opioid addiction is a difficult ordeal for those directly affected, as well as their loved ones. But the people of New Jersey, as well as their friends and family members, shouldn’t have to suffer anymore. We’re all in this together, and together we can fight the opioid epidemic head-on.

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