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New Jersey Addiction Statistics

New Jersey has been facing a growing addiction crisis, with substance abuse rates on the rise across the state. Factors such as limited access to treatment due to funding shortages and societal stigma surrounding addiction have contributed to the worsening situation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated substance abuse in the state. Families and communities across the state felt the devastating effects of addiction as it soared amidst widespread economic uncertainty and social isolation. 

However, statistics from 2023 show signs of improvement. Efforts to address addiction, coupled with increased access to treatment and support services, are beginning to yield positive results.

Here are the key statistics and trends related to addiction in New Jersey. 


  • New Jersey witnessed a decrease in drug addiction and overdose deaths in 2023, with 2,564 reported fatalities, marking a decline from the previous year’s confirmed toll of 3,054.
  • New Jersey educational institutions documented over 6,600 cases of substance use during the 2021-2022 academic period.
  • Out of the 85,266 individuals seeking addiction treatment in 2022, 49,635 were diagnosed with a mental illness or had a co-occurring disorder.
  • Essex County currently has the highest rate of opioid-related fatalities in the state, with 84.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • A notable 53% of individuals entering addiction treatment in 2021 initiated the process themselves, with corrections programs and addiction service organizations referring 18% and 10% respectively.

General Insights

New Jersey continues to deal with a significant drug addiction problem, compounded by gang-related crime. The most common addictions in the state are alcohol and heroin. Here are some more general insights:

  • In 2023, New Jersey reported 2,564 drug addiction and overdose deaths, a decline in suspected overdose fatalities from 2022, when 3,054 confirmed deaths were reported.
  • The decline follows a record high of 3,144 overdose deaths in the state during 2021, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The number of overdose deaths in New Jersey has tripled since 2012, increasing from 1,096 to surpass 3,000 annually in recent years.
  • New Jersey schools documented over 6,600 instances of substance use during the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • In 2022, there were a total of 85,266 hospital admissions and 84,437 discharges for drug abuse and addiction treatment. Of these patients, 58,841 admissions (69%) were male, while the remaining 31% were female.
  • The primary substances leading to treatment admissions were alcohol, accounting for 31,807 admissions (37%), followed by heroin with 30,933 admissions (36%), and other opiates with 6,553 admissions (8%). Cocaine/crack contributed to 5,005 admissions (6%), marijuana/synthetic cannabinoids to 5,610 admissions (7%), and methamphetamines/other stimulants to 2,098 admissions (2%).
  • Many individuals seeking drug addiction treatment were either unemployed (17,704 admissions, 21%) or residing independently (63,070 admissions, 74%).
  • Over 42,000 individuals in New Jersey sought treatment for substance use disorders while facing legal issues or being on parole.
  • The most frequent types of addiction treatment in New Jersey were outpatient care (19%) and intensive outpatient care (20%). Detoxification in a residential setting was also standard, accounting for 20% of cases.
  • 53% of individuals who entered addiction treatment in 2021 took the initiative to seek help themselves. Other sources of referral were corrections programs (18%) and addiction service organizations (10%).
  • Numerous street gangs are involved in drug distribution and violent crime in New Jersey. The National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2000 National Street Gang Survey Report confirms that most of the state’s 19 reported gangs are involved in assaults, drive-by shootings, and homicides.
  • New Jersey was one of the five states reporting the highest number of fentanyl and heroin addiction reports to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System in 2019.
  • New Jersey ranked among the top five states in the United States for cocaine-involved drug poisoning deaths in 2018, following New York, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The state recorded 867 such deaths that year.

Effects of Addiction

The addiction crisis in New Jersey is fueling a range of public health concerns, such as overdose deaths, crime, road traffic accidents, and mental health issues. Here’s how addiction is affecting the state:

  • New Jersey saw 667 fatal crashes in 2021 with 697 deaths. This represents a significant increase of 18.7% in total fatalities compared to 587 in 2020 and equals an average of 1.9 deaths per day.
  • 49,635 out of the 85,266 people seeking treatment for addiction in 2022 also had a mental illness or co-occurring disorder. 
  • 1,653 individuals seeking treatment for drug addiction and overuse also reported being arrested within the last 30 days.
  • The likelihood of being a victim of drug-related crime in Jersey City varies significantly across different areas. In the east neighborhoods, the chance is as high as 1 in 118, while in the southeast, it’s much lower, at 1 in 860.
  • A significant portion of violent crime in New Jersey (70%) stems directly from illegal drug activity. Heroin’s impact is particularly alarming since it accounts for 38% of all federal sentencing cases in the state—which is significantly higher than the national average of 8%.

County-Specific Statistics

Some counties in New Jersey exhibit higher rates of addiction-related issues than others. Here are county-specific addiction statistics for the state: 

Essex County

  • In 2021, Essex recorded 87 treatment admissions per 10,000 residents, which marks a 46% decrease from 2018 and falls below the statewide rate of 126 per 10,000 residents. 
  • Heroin and opioids were the predominant addiction drugs in Essex and led to nearly half of all admissions. Alcohol was the second most common primary drug, leading to approximately 33% of admissions. 
  • Essex County currently experiences the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the state, with 84.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Camden County

  • There were 354 fatalities attributed to drug addiction overdose in Camden County in 2022. It represents an uptick of nearly 6% compared to the previous year. 
  • Camden County is notable for its high occurrences of fentanyl overdoses (285 cases), along with a significant number of cocaine-related incidents (149 cases).

Bergen County

  • Bergen County recorded 57 deaths caused by heroin, 110 due to fentanyl, 36 because of cocaine, and 41 due to benzodiazepine overdose.
  • Fentanyl-related drug deaths in Bergen County jumped from 34% to nearly 80% of all such fatalities between 2016 and 2020.
  • The age group of 25-44 accounted for over 50% of both those admitted for addiction treatment and individuals involved in suspected overdoses reported by law enforcement in Bergen County.

Middlesex County

  • 5,869 individuals in Middlesex County sought treatment for substance use disorders in 2022.
  • Alcohol and heroin were the most prevalent primary drugs and accounted for a combined 76% of all treatment admissions.
  • Almost one-fifth (19%) of individuals entering treatment reported using drugs intravenously. 

Other County-Specific Statistics

  • Alcohol admissions are more frequent in Bergen and Morris, while Atlantic, Camden, and Ocean see more heroin-related cases.
  • Fewer residents in Hunterdon, Salem, Sussex, and Warren counties seek rehab compared to other areas of New Jersey. 
  • New Jersey’s four largest cities—Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Paterson—lie within 15 miles of New York City and are among the five cities designated as the New York and New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).


How Long Do You Go to Jail for Drug Possession in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, drug possession is considered a third-degree offense, which carries a potential penalty of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000. 

The actual length of imprisonment depends on the circumstances of the case, the type and amount of the drug involved, any prior criminal record, and the discretion of the judge. 

What Is the Cause of Addiction Crisis in New Jersey?

The addiction crisis in New Jersey is largely fueled by its location and extensive transportation infrastructure, which unintentionally facilitate drug transportation and distribution. 

The state is located between major cities like New York and Philadelphia, which makes it easy for drugs to be smuggled into it from various sources like Colombia and Mexico. It is difficult to control the supply chain and the state serves as a key point for moving drugs to a wide consumer base. 

Plus, New Jersey’s coastline, seaports, and international airports provide multiple entry points for illicit substances, while its highways and road networks enable swift distribution.

What Is New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Drug Addiction?

Alcohol and heroin are the most dangerous drug addictions in New Jersey and collectively constitute 73% of all admissions for substance abuse treatment. 

Other opiates, marijuana, and cocaine make up the rest of the top five most prevalent drugs prompting treatment admissions in the state.

Which Demographic Has the Highest Addiction Rates in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, White males aged 35-44 have the highest addiction rates based on hospital admissions and discharges for drug abuse and addiction treatment in 2022.

Men have a higher number of addiction-related hospital admissions at 69% compared to women at 31%. 

Individuals identified as White (non-Hispanic) constituted the largest portion of admissions, comprising 58% of the total cases. Black (non-Hispanic) individuals followed with 25% of admissions, and those of Hispanic origin made up 15%.

In terms of age groups, people aged 35-44 represented the demographic segment with the highest addiction rates, accounting for 28% of admissions. The age groups 30-34, 45-54, and 25-29 followed closely. Those under 18 years old comprised the smallest segment, at only 1% (943) of admissions.

Data Sources

















Rubicon Recovery Center
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The Rubicon Editorial Team is a collective of seasoned professionals from The Rubicon, a renowned drug and alcohol treatment center. Comprising addiction counselors, medical experts, therapists, and recovery specialists, our team brings a wealth of diverse experience and compassionate insight to our blog. We are dedicated to providing valuable, research-backed information and practical advice to support individuals on their journey to recovery. Our articles aim to educate, inspire, and empower those affected by addiction, offering a beacon of hope and guidance through the complexities of rehabilitation and wellness.

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