In Hudson County, Jersey City is home to a steadily growing population. In 2013, the population reached 257,342, up 228,992 in 1993. In fact, the population of this city is slated to overtake that of Newark in 2016. The median income is a healthy $58,000.

For all the benefits of living in Jersey City, the area faces a drug problem. In fact, of the 565 towns in New Jersey, Jersey City is reportedly in the top 7 percent for heroin and prescription opioid abuse. Per data available for 2012, there were 1,127 heroin or opioid abuse cases in Jersey City, second only to Newark (1,827). Paterson was in third place (871). Although there is an opiate and opioid abuse crisis in Jersey City, it is important to look at the general landscape of drug abuse in this city as well as Hudson County more generally.

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Substance Use Rates in Hudson County

In 2014, the New Jersey released a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Overview for Hudson County. The report includes many helpful statistics that reflect the realities of substance abuse among residents of Hudson County. New Jersey authorities found that in 2014 there were 65,553 drug treatment admissions in the state (does not include all treatment admissions). Treatment providers were invited to share information about these admissions through the online New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System (NJSAMS). The 2014 report is based on information that was provided by treatment facilities that participated in the survey.

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The following are some insightful findings:

  • Drugs for which Hudson County residents sought treatment: marijuana (1,168), heroin (1,053), alcohol (759), cocaine (201), opiates other than heroin (115), and other drugs (225).
  • Intravenous drug users: Of Hudson County residents who sought drug treatment services, 556 (14 percent) reported intravenous drug use.
  • Medication-assisted treatment numbers: There were 586 recovering individuals who started methadone treatment and 41 began Suboxone therapy. Methadone and Suboxone (i.e., buprenorphine) are medications that have received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration as substitution therapy for opiate and opioid abuse (i.e., prescription pain relievers).
  • Referrals: Most referrals came from the criminal justice system (1,558), followed by self-referral (959), not specified (380), the New Jersey Workforce program (183), the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (304), Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (157), addiction services program (110), family/friend (85), and by a mental health professional/facility (33).
  • By biological sex: There were 2,847 Hudson County males who sought treatment and 1,005 females.
  • Insurance status: 2,346 were uninsured, 1,214 had Medicaid, 309 had private insurance, 66 had other insurance, and 43 had Medicare. Some rehab centers reported “other insurance.”
  • Level of care: The top three levels of care provided were outpatient (1,677), intensive outpatient (899), and opioid maintenance (445).

Residents of Passaic County are taking action at the community level to address the drug abuse crisis. One organization, United for Prevention in Passaic County (UPinPC), works with local authorities, residents, and other community organizations to raise awareness of drug abuse in the county. The organization has the stated following goals: reduce the prevalence of prescription opioid medications on the street, reduce the rate of underage drinking, support young adults, increase communication and collaboration in the community, and increase (free) membership to UpinPC across the county. By joining this organization, individuals can remain current on UpinPC projects and also participate in them. Alternatively, the public may visit the UpinPC’s website to learn more and to get involved with events and educational efforts.

Help for Jersey City and Greater Hudson County Residents

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey makes resources and programs available to teens. The organization addresses the growing number of tweens and teens in New Jersey, including Jersey City, who are abusing heroin and prescription medications, such as the prescription amphetamine Adderall and opioid pain relievers like Percocet. The teen and tween community is at risk because they may lack insight into the devastating effects of narcotics and other drugs. Further, this demographic may have access to prescription medications through a mental health disorder diagnosis (such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or access to a parent’s medicine cabinet. Teens and tweens may also be prone to sharing drugs given the social nature of this demographic. The partnership works with teens, tweens, young adults, parents, and the community to raise awareness about drug abuse and implement strategies to stem it.

Individuals in Jersey City who are in need of substance abuse treatment may inaccurately perceive that they cannot afford it. For those who are insured, there may be a concern that the insurance company will not cover the needed services. However, help is available for the uninsured and insured alike.

The website HealthCare.gov is a government site with insurance plan applications and information to contact a navigator (a trained insurance specialist). A navigator can screen an applicant for Medicaid (free health insurance/public health insurance) or eligibility for marketplace plans (under the Affordable Care Act). Some individuals who are eligible for private insurance may receive a government subsidy, which reduces the cost of monthly premiums. For more information, the best practice is to contact a navigator directory through Healthcare.gov.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services provides several informational resources to the public. The site includes contact information for hotlines, including:

  • The NJ Addiction Services Hotline
  • The NJ Hopeline
  • Veterans Hotline
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline (in English)
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline (in Spanish)

In addition, the department provides a searchable directory to locate addiction services by county, a directory to find a mental health professional, and rehab programs that the department directly funds. These directories are available to individuals who have insurance or are uninsured. Those individuals who have private health insurance can also contact their insurance carrier directly for a service provider directory. Individuals who have New Jersey Medicaid can contact the New Jersey Department of Human Services/Medicaid for assistance with finding a rehab services provider. Those with Medicare can contact the New Jersey Department of Human Services/Medicare.

Drug addiction is a treatable disease. Compassionate and comprehensive services are available throughout New Jersey. There are many stakeholders in recovery, including the individual, family, friends, employers, and addiction professionals who want to help. The road to recovery starts with a single step — seeking help.