Drug and Alcohol Abuse Trends in Jersey City, New Jersey
With a population of over 250,000, Jersey City is one of the fastest growing municipalities in New Jersey and is the second most populous city in the state. Jersey City functions as the county seat of Hudson County and is currently experiencing an addiction crisis that is comparably worse than any other city in the district. Over the past decade, the town has been severely impacted by the opioid epidemic that has spread across the United States. Drug overdose, specifically due to opioids, is one of the main causes of death in both Jersey City and the state. In 2016, Jersey City admitted 49% of all substance abuse treatment admissions in the entire county. Most of those seeking treatment that year listed heroin as their primary drug of abuse.
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The Opioid Crisis
The entire state of New Jersey is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and Jersey City has not been spared of its devastating effects. In fact, of the 565 towns in New Jersey, Jersey City is reportedly in the top 7% for heroin and prescription opioid abuse. A statistic from the County Health Rankings in New Jersey shows 187 opioid-related overdose deaths occurred in Hudson County alone in 2016. Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Human Services reports that the number of individuals seeking treatment for heroin and prescription opioid use in Hudson County has been steadily increasing since 2014, with no sign of slowing down any time soon.
In Jersey City alone, 765 people, or 37% of all treatment admissions in the city, reported heroin as their primary drug of abuse, while another 46 people or 2% reported “other opiates” as their primary drug of abuse. Data from the New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office shows that from January of 2018 to January of 2019, only 53,127 opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Hudson County, which has been declining since the year 2016. However, drug-related deaths continue to rise in Jersey City. This shows that while prescription opioid abuse may be slowing, an even deadlier opioid drug is taking its place – fentanyl.
The paradox of an increasing opioid death rate with a falling prescription rate is due primarily to heroin and fentanyl.
Heroin remains the top drug of abuse amongst those seeking addiction treatment in Jersey City, but the prevalence of fentanyl is a recent and growing development. Fentanyl is a potent illicit drug that is 100 times stronger than morphine, making the risk of overdose much higher than other opiates. It is not uncommon for people to use fentanyl at the same time as heroin and crack cocaine, as these substances are often laced with the drug. Of the 147 people who died of drug overdoses in Hudson County in 2017, fentanyl was involved 69 times – that’s a 102% increase from the year before. Heroin was used in 84 of the overdose deaths, which is an increase of 9% from 2016.
In response to this alarming trend, Hudson County officials are attempting to curb substance abuse by hosting several drug take-back events throughout the city and informative training sessions on how to administer the overdose reversal drug Naloxone. The use of Naloxone has proven to be a powerful tool in combating the opioid crisis in Jersey City. Last year, it was used 683 times in Hudson County – a 238% increase from 2017 when it was deployed 202 times. Additionally, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is working to raise awareness in the community and educate teens and tweens on the dangers of opioid drugs.
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Jersey City: A Hub for Drug Trafficking
Jersey City is a prominent hub for illicit substance trafficking, as the transportation infrastructure is ideal for smuggling drugs into the area. As a part of the New York metropolitan area, Jersey City is bounded on the east by the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay and on the west by the Hackensack River and Newark Bay. The city shares significant mass transit connections with Manhattan and is an important transportation terminus and distribution center for the Port of New York and New Jersey. With multiple busy seaports, an international airport close by, and miles of highways, Jersey City has become a key element in drug trafficking activities throughout New Jersey.The city’s well-developed transportation infrastructure is ideally suited for the movement of illicit drugs and drug proceeds to and from the region. Multi-kilogram to metric ton quantities of drugs are transported to Jersey City from drug source and transit countries such as Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
Columbian Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) have become the primary source of illicit drugs in the state of New Jersey. Drug shipments arriving in the region are typically divided into smaller quantities for local distribution within the state and then transported to other areas outside of the state. Drugs supplied to Upstate New York are typically transported by traffickers along I-87 and I-90. Illicit drugs also are transported overland to the region from the West Coast, Southwest Border states, and Canada. Newark Liberty International Airport offers numerous flights daily to and from the region, and drug traffickers often exploit them to facilitate drug transportation. The Port of New York/New Jersey in Jersey City is the largest container port complex on the East Coast of North America and provides opportunities for maritime smuggling.
In response to the growing trafficking issue in the surrounding areas of New York and New Jersey, the Office of National Drug Control Policy created the New Jersey/New York High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative to reduce illicit drug availability and eliminate drug trafficking organizations in the region and beyond. The biggest drug threats identified in the NY/NJ HIDTA include heroin, crack cocaine, fentanyl, and marijuana. Although all of these drugs are transported and abused by local populations, heroin poses the greatest threat. Heroin is frequently abused in the region, and its abuse has spread to new and younger populations. To combat drug smuggling and other illegal activity on the highways and waterways of Jersey City, the New Jersey state police instituted “Operation Shield” to increase awareness and patrol of transportation systems. Additionally, Hudson County officials have assembled a task force that continually works with a variety of local, state, and national organizations to reduce trafficking, including the DEA, U.S. Marshalls, FBI, and even the U.S. postal service.
Jersey City Substance Abuse Statistics
In 2016, there were 1,409 opioid-related overdose deaths in New Jersey—or 16 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Of the Hudson County residents who sought drug treatment services in 2016, 556 (14%) reported intravenous drug use.
Approximately 41% of all HIV infections in the state of New Jersey are due to sharing contaminated syringes for drug use.
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Addiction can be difficult to end, but anyone who wants to reclaim their life from substance abuse can achieve a full recovery with the right support. If you’re looking for addiction treatment services in the Jersey City area, rest assured that there is a wide variety of high-quality and affordable options available to you. If you’re ready to end your battle with drug or alcohol abuse, contact a dedicated treatment provider and find the rehab facility that’s right for you.