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NJ Substance Abuse Statistics (2023)

Substance abuse remains a significant challenge in New Jersey, impacting individuals, families, and communities. In 2022, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, reported comprehensive data providing valuable insights into the state's fight against substance abuse. This article delves into these reports, presenting an accessible overview of the current situation and progress in combating drug and alcohol abuse in New Jersey.

Overview of Substance Abuse in New Jersey

In 2022, New Jersey faced a formidable challenge in substance abuse, with 85,266 treatment admissions and 84,437 discharges. These figures highlight the pressing need for effective treatment and prevention strategies.

Trends in Substance Abuse

  • Primary Substances Involved: Alcohol (31,807 admissions, 37%), heroin (30,933 admissions, 36%), and other opiates (6,553 admissions, 8%) were the most common substances leading to treatment admissions. Additionally, cocaine/crack (5,005 admissions, 6%), marijuana/synthetic cannabinoids (5,610 admissions, 7%), and methamphetamines/other stimulants (2,098 admissions, 2%) also played significant roles.
  • Demographic Insights: The majority of those seeking treatment were male (58,841 admissions, 69%), with significant representation across various age groups, particularly those aged 35-44 years (28%). A substantial number of individuals were unemployed (17,704 admissions, 21%) or living independently (63,070 admissions, 74%).
  • Geographic Distribution: The data shows a varied geographic distribution of substance abuse cases across New Jersey, with significant admissions in counties like Essex (8,194 admissions, 10%) and Atlantic (7,403 admissions, 9%).

Treatment Admissions

In 2022, New Jersey saw a significant number of individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse, with 85,266 admissions. This data provides valuable insights into the primary substances leading to treatment, as well as the demographics of those affected.

Breakdown of Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions

Primary Substances Involved

  • Alcohol: With 31,807 admissions, accounting for 37% of the total.
  • Heroin: Close behind alcohol, with 30,933 admissions, representing 36%.
  • Other Opiates: Represent 6,553 admissions, which is 8%.
  • Cocaine/Crack: Account for 5,005 admissions (6%).
  • Marijuana/Synthetic Cannabinoids: Comprise 5,610 admissions (7%).
  • Methamphetamines/Other Stimulants: Make up 2,098 admissions (2%).
  • Other Drugs: Contribute 3,172 admissions (4%).

Demographic Breakdown

  • Employment Status: 17,704 (21%) were unemployed, while 27,237 (32%) were employed full/part-time.
  • Living Arrangement: 9,038 (11%) were homeless, and a majority, 63,070 (74%), were living independently.
  • Level of Care: Outpatient care (19%) and intensive outpatient (20%) were the most common levels of care, with detox residential also accounting for a significant portion (20%).
  • Medication Assisted Therapy: Methadone (16%) and Buprenorphine (12%) were the most common treatments.
  • Gender: 58,841 (69%) of admissions were male, and 26,334 (31%) were female.
  • Race/Ethnicity: The majority were White (non-Hispanic) at 58%, followed by Black (non-Hispanic) at 25%, and Hispanic at 15%.

Special Populations and Other Factors

  • Tobacco Use: 47,953 (56%) of those admitted used tobacco products.
  • Legal Problems: A significant proportion had legal issues, with 60% having no legal problems.
  • Special Populations: Included those involved in child protection/child welfare programs (11%) and driving under the influence programs (4%).
  • Health Insurance: A majority of 72% were covered by Medicaid.
  • Self-Help Group Attendance: 12% attended Narcotic Anonymous and 14% attended Alcoholic Anonymous.
  • Age Group: The largest age group was 35-44 years (28%), followed by 25-29 years (13%) and 30-34 years (18%).

Treatment Discharges

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, New Jersey reported a total of 84,437 substance abuse treatment discharges. This data is crucial for understanding the outcomes of treatments and the effectiveness of the state's substance abuse programs.

Analysis of Discharge Data

Level of Care in Discharges

  • Outpatient Care (OP): 17,408 discharges (20%).
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP): 17,669 discharges (20%).
  • Detox Residential: The highest, with 17,771 discharges (21%).
  • Other categories, such as Partial Hospitalization, Opioid Maintenance, and Short-Term Residential, also had significant discharge numbers.

Client Goals Achieved

  • Alcohol or Drug Problem Resolution: 38,913 clients achieved this goal.
  • Not Using Alcohol or Drugs: 54,599 clients were not using alcohol or drugs at the time of discharge.
  • Educational, Employment, Family, and Health Goals: Many clients also achieved goals related to educational, employment, family situation, psychological or mental health, and physical health.

Demographic Breakdown

  • Gender: 59,686 male (69%) and 26,519 female (31%) discharges.
  • Race/Ethnicity: Predominantly White (59%), followed by Black (25%), Hispanic (15%), and other (1%).
  • Age Group: The largest age group was 35-44 years (28%), followed by 25-29 years (13%) and 30-34 years (18%).

Tobacco Use and Living Arrangement

  • Tobacco Products Used: 40,751 clients were using tobacco products.
  • Living Arrangement: The majority, 65,689 clients, were living independently, while 4,663 were dependent living/institutionalized, and 1,709 were homeless.

Employment Status

  • Unemployed: 15,509 clients.
  • Employed Full/Part Time: 30,065 clients.
  • A significant number, 37,908 clients, were not in the labor force, while 914 were students.

Insights from the Data

The discharge data provides a comprehensive view of the treatment outcomes in New Jersey. The high number of clients not using alcohol or drugs at discharge and those achieving significant life goals indicate the effectiveness of treatment programs. The demographic breakdown also offers insights into the populations most affected by substance abuse and those benefiting from treatment.

The substance abuse treatment data from New Jersey reveals not only the scale of the problem but also the evolving challenges and trends that policymakers and healthcare providers must address.

Evolving Substance Abuse Patterns

  • The high numbers of treatment admissions and discharges for substances like alcohol, heroin, and other opiates highlight ongoing challenges in tackling these prevalent forms of substance abuse.
  • The emergence of other substances, such as methamphetamines and synthetic cannabinoids, indicates shifting patterns in substance use that require adaptive strategies.

Demographic Variations in Substance Abuse

  • The data shows significant differences in substance abuse patterns across various demographics, including age, gender, and employment status. This suggests the need for targeted interventions that cater to the specific needs of different groups.
  • The high number of admissions among individuals aged 35-44 and the gender disparity in treatment (more males than females) underscore specific areas of focus.

Geographic Disparities in Treatment Access and Outcomes

  • The variation in treatment admissions and discharges across counties suggests geographic disparities in access to and the effectiveness of treatment programs.
  • Identifying areas with higher admission rates and tailoring resources to these regions can improve overall treatment outcomes.

Impact of Socioeconomic Factors

  • The correlation between unemployment and substance abuse, as indicated by the high number of unemployed individuals in treatment, highlights the impact of socioeconomic factors on substance abuse.
  • Addressing these underlying factors, such as unemployment and homelessness, is crucial for effective long-term solutions.

Challenges in Treatment Efficacy and Continuity

  • The data suggests varying success rates in different treatment programs, indicating areas where improvement is needed in terms of treatment efficacy.
  • Ensuring continuity of care post-discharge and supporting clients in maintaining sobriety and achieving life goals are key challenges.

Insights from the Data

The data from New Jersey's substance abuse treatment reports provide critical insights into the challenges and trends in substance abuse. Understanding these trends is essential for developing more effective, targeted, and comprehensive strategies to combat substance abuse in the state.

Treatment Outcomes and Effectiveness

Evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of substance abuse treatment programs is essential for understanding their impact on individuals and guiding improvements in these services. Treatment outcomes refer to the measurable changes in health, behavior, or quality of life that result from the treatment. Effectiveness, on the other hand, relates to how well these treatments meet their intended goals, such as reducing substance use, improving mental and physical health, and enhancing overall well-being.

Treatment Success and Client Goals

  • A substantial number of clients (54,599) reported not using alcohol or drugs at the time of discharge, indicating a positive immediate outcome from treatment.
  • Many clients achieved significant life goals related to their alcohol or drug problems, employment, education, family situations, and health, showcasing the holistic impact of these treatment programs.

Variations in Treatment Effectiveness

  • The distribution of discharges across different levels of care, such as outpatient care (20%), intensive outpatient (20%), and detox residential (21%), reflects the varied needs and effectiveness of these treatment modalities.
  • Understanding the specific outcomes of each treatment type is vital for refining approaches and allocating resources effectively.

Demographic Impact on Treatment Outcomes

  • The demographic data of discharged clients, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, and employment status, provide insights into which groups are most affected by substance abuse and how they respond to treatment.
  • Tailoring treatment approaches to meet the needs of these diverse groups can enhance the overall effectiveness of substance abuse programs.

Socioeconomic Factors and Continuity of Care

  • The interplay between socioeconomic factors, such as employment and housing status, and substance abuse treatment outcomes is evident, with a large proportion of clients being unemployed or not in the labor force.
  • Ensuring continuity of care and support post-treatment, especially for vulnerable groups, is key to maintaining treatment gains and preventing relapse.

Insights for Future Strategies

  • The data points to the need for continuous monitoring and adaptation of treatment programs to address evolving substance abuse patterns and demographic needs.
  • Strengthening support systems, both during and after treatment, is essential for sustainable recovery and improved quality of life for individuals battling substance abuse.

Resources and Support for Substance Abuse in New Jersey

For individuals and families affected by substance abuse, knowing where to find help and support is crucial. New Jersey offers a range of resources designed to assist those in need of substance abuse treatment and support services.

State and Local Treatment Resources

  • New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services: This department provides a comprehensive list of treatment facilities and programs across the state.
  • County Services: Each county in New Jersey has local services and programs tailored to the needs of its residents, offering more accessible treatment options.

Support Groups and Community Resources

  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholic Anonymous (AA): These organizations offer support groups and meetings throughout New Jersey, helping individuals in recovery maintain sobriety.
  • Community-Based Organizations: Local nonprofits and community groups often provide additional support, counseling, and resources for individuals and families dealing with substance abuse.

Specialized Treatment Programs

  • New Jersey offers specialized treatment programs for various groups, including veterans, pregnant women, and individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Programs focused on specific substances, such as opioid maintenance therapy, are also available to cater to the unique needs of those battling different types of substance addiction.

Financial Assistance and Insurance Coverage

  • Medicaid and Private Insurance: Many treatment programs in New Jersey accept Medicaid and private insurance, helping to alleviate the financial burden of treatment.
  • State-Funded Programs: For individuals without insurance, state-funded programs offer an avenue for accessing treatment services.

Online Resources and Helplines

  • NJ Mental Health Cares: This helpline provides emotional support and resources.
  • Reach NJ: A government initiative offering a helpline and online resources for finding treatment services in New Jersey.


Understanding the landscape of substance abuse and the resources available for treatment and support in New Jersey is vital for combating this issue. By providing comprehensive information and easy access to these resources, we can support individuals and families affected by substance abuse on their journey to recovery and wellness.