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What is New Jersey’s most dangerous drug addiction?

Recovery Centers of America

Authored by Recovery Centers of America

Drug overdoses have become a leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. New Jersey may have been an outlier for a while, but it’s now on a path toward its bleak milestone in a decade-long epidemic.

Recent data shows that Garden State had nearly3,100 overdose deaths in 2021, one of the highest since the state started monitoring in 2012. It also had more admissions for substance abuse. In the last decade, admission to drug treatment facilities in New Jersey has risen by 700%. 

The State of New Jersey published a Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions report, and here are the number of addicts admitted to drug treatment facilities:

  • Heroin 41,854 42%
  • Alcohol 30,651 31%
  • Marijuana 10,508 11%
  • Other Opiates 5,818 6%
  • Cocaine 5,385 5%
  • Other Drugs 4,263 4%

According to the report, heroin is the most dangerous drug in New Jersey, accounting for 42% of all substance abuse treatment admissions. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering heroin use has been on the rise in recent years. Other dangerous drugs include alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine which make up the rest of the top five most dangerous drugs in the state.

Sadly, only 59.9% of those affected in New Jersey, 94,050 New Jersey, received treatment for drugs or alcohol or substance use disorders. The other 40.1% did not get treatment even though they needed it. In the report, Camden, Ocean, Essex, Atlantic, and Monmouth had the highest admission rates, of admissions.

Heroin addiction

Prescription painkiller abuse was at an all-time high in the United States between 2000 and 2009. People became addicted to painkillers prescribed by their doctor, and when they could no longer get a prescription, they turned to heroin. Heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription drugs.

The rise in heroin use led to a spike in heroin overdoses and deaths. Between 2016 to 2018, the state experienced a 29.3% spike in overdose deaths. And today, the rate of heroin overdoses in New Jersey is 3x the national average.

Heroin is a dangerous drug that can have serious side effects, including: 

  • Issues like nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, sweating, itching, and seizures
  • Dependence
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Respiratory problems
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Overdose and death

Alcohol addiction

While heroin is the most dangerous drug in New Jersey, alcohol is a close second. According to the State of New Jersey report, it accounts for 31% of all substance abuse treatment admissions. Alcohol is legal and easy to get, which makes it one of the most commonly abused substances in the state. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol addiction can lead to serious health problems, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mental health problems

Marijuana abuse

For many years, marijuana was considered the most commonly used illegal drug in New Jersey. However, in 2010, the state legalized medical marijuana and, later on, in 2021, decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug.

While medical and recreational marijuana is now legal in New Jersey, it’s still considered dangerous. According to the report, marijuana accounts for 11% of all substance abuse treatment admissions. Marijuana addiction can lead to serious side effects, including:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine addiction

Cocaine is a stimulant that’s made from the coca plant. It’s a powerful and dangerous drug with serious side effects, including heart attack, stroke, and seizure. Cocaine use can also lead to psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia and hallucinations. In 2019, cocaine resulted in 5% or 5,385 of all substance abuse admissions.

In addition to the health risks, cocaine is associated with crime and violence. Cocaine is expensive, and many people turn to criminal activity to get the money to buy it. The illegal cocaine trade is also associated with gang activity and turf wars. As a result, cocaine addiction can have devastating consequences not just for the individual abusing the drug but for society as a whole.


Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers. They’re powerful drugs that can have serious side effects, including respiratory depression, drowsiness, and constipation. They can also cause irreversible effects on the mind and body of those who become addicted to them. These opiates led to 5,818, or 6% of admissions in 2019.

Fentanyl is a particularly dangerous opioid because it’s 50-100 times more potent than heroin. It is commonly mixed with drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth and made into pills that resemble other prescription opioids. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous, and many people may not know that their drugs are mixed with fentanyl.


Designer drugs

Designer drugs are synthetic drugs created to mimic other drugs’ effects. They are sold illegally and can be dangerous because they’re not regulated. Some designer drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD, can cause hallucinations and psychotic episodes.

Others, such as synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice), can cause serious health problems, including kidney damage and heart issues. In 2019, designer drugs resulted in 4,263, or 4% of all substance abuse admissions.

Designer drugs can have unpredictable effects because they are not regulated.

Addiction treatment

Addiction is a serious disease with devastating consequences. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to any of these drugs, it’s important to get help in an accredited drug rehab center. Many addiction treatment options are available, and the sooner you get help, the better. Most addiction centers offer medication-assisted detox, counseling for behavioral health, and 12-step programs for addiction recovery. Addiction treatment can help you overcome your addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. It can also provide you with the tools and resources you need to stay sober and avoid relapse. If you’re struggling with addiction, don’t wait to get help. Recovery Centers of America is an accredited drug rehab provider with several New Jersey treatment centers. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.

Authored by

Recovery Centers of America

Recovery Centers of America



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