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Affluent Counties Fair Better In New Jersey's Battle with Substance Use

The latest data on substance abuse in New Jersey is in, and the numbers are alarming. In 2021 alone, New Jersey saw 87,000 admissions to various drug and alcohol treatment centers, with the majority being in coastal counties. Heroin was the most common drug for treatment -- making up roughly 38% of all admission -- trailed only slightly by alcohol. Males were twice as likely to seek substance abuse treatment than women, especially between the ages of 25-59.

"These numbers seem disturbing, but accurate," says Scott Busby, head of admissions for Praesum Healthcare. "We see the same trends that the state does in those seeking treatment, especially in the discrepancies between counties.” Mr. Busby would know, as Praesum operates various counseling, rehab, and detox centers across the state. As the state continues to grapple with this ongoing crisis, addiction specialists like Busby are calling for urgent action to ensure that treatment is accessible to everyone who needs it."

Interactive Map of NJ Drug and Alcohol Abuse

**Hover or tap on the map to see each county's drug and alcohol statistics.**
HudsonBergenBurlingtonOceanSussexWarrenPassaicMorrisSomersetHunterdonMiddlesexEssexMercerMonmouthUnionCamdenGloucesterAtlanticCumberlandSalemCape May

Drug and Alcohol Treatment Lags In Various New Jersey Counties

Many data points in addiction treatment are fairly standard no matter what county you look at. Heroin seems to be the drug of choice for most of the state, and young men seem to be the largest demographic. However, the data also highlights significant disparities in addiction treatment rates across the state, based on county.

"We’re not entirely sure why treatment rates lag in certain counties,” says Busby. “This trend could be attributed to several factors, like the accessibility of treatment facilities, socioeconomic demographics, and education.”

The data reveals a discrepancy in treatment rates between urban and rural counties, with urban areas showing lower addiction treatment rates than their rural counterparts. There's also a noticeable difference in addiction treatment rates between coastal and northeastern counties. Coastal counties like Atlantic and Cape May exhibit higher addiction treatment rates per thousand, while Bergen, Hudson, Union, and Morris counties have lower addiction treatment rates, highlighting the need for further investigation into the underlying factors contributing to these disparities.

Men Twice As Likely To Be Enrolled In Drug Treatment Than Women

While levels fluctuate from county to county, certain facts remain the same. Males constituted a significantly larger proportion of admissions for substance abuse treatment by an almost 2:1 ratio to women. The majority of admissions were in the 25-59 age group, accounting for 85.1% of total admissions. Also, over a third of total admissions were from individuals with mental health or another co-occurring disorder.

The state reports highlighted some trends regarding alcohol and drug treatment:

  • Males constituted 69.1% of total admissions compared to 30.9% for females.

  • 85.1% were in the 25-59 age group, followed by the 18-24 age group (8%), 60 and over age group (6.2%), and 0-17 age group (0.6%).

  • 44% of those in treatment were not in the labor force, followed by 34% being employed full or part-time, and 20% being unemployed

  • Outpatient Care (OP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) were the most common levels of treatment, each accounting for 21% of the total discharges.

  • Detox Residential represented 21% of discharges. Other levels of care, such as Long-Term Residential and Short-Term Residential, made up smaller proportions.

  • Only 41.4% of those admitted to a treatment completed their program. 18.7% of patients left against professional advice, and 16.6% were administratively discharged.

  • Among the total admissions, 34.1% were identified as having a mental illness or co-occurring disorder.

Treatment Centers Can Help Make Addiction Services More Accessible

Despite the challenges regarding addiction treatment, there's hope. As Busby points out, the importance of access cannot be overstated. "At Sunrise Detox, we address the specific needs of each individual," he says. “That starts with working with community organizations in every county and providing outreach for both urban and rural areas. We offer free or low-cost transportation from anywhere in the state to one of our facilities. And when someone from out of the area finishes a residential program, we will help set an aftercare plan that includes treatment closer to home.”

Other ways treatment centers can ensure that services are equitable includes gender-responsive care, age-appropriate interventions, and integrated care for co-occurring disorders. Programs can work together to create a wide net of access. For example, when a center is full or does not accept a particular insurance, they should be able to point the individual to another program that can help. "It's time for us to unify as a community and prioritize addiction treatment," says Busby. "Only by working together can we hope to overcome this crisis."

Data Overview: Addiction Treatment Demographics and Trends in New Jersey

   Note: This data set may not capture the complete picture of addiction treatment in the state, but it offers valuable insights into the demographics, substance use patterns, and treatment outcomes among those seeking help.

  • Source: https://www.nj.gov

  • Variables: Gender, age, primary drug, level of care, employment status, reasons for discharge or treatment not completed, race/ethnicity, mental illness/co-occurring disorder, and tobacco products used

  • Time frame: 2021