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Report Points to Extent of South Jersey’s Drug Abuse Problems

Report Points to Extent of South Jersey’s Drug Abuse Problems

By Vince Conti

A report by a New Jersey nonprofit organization has found that 2,892 people died from overdoses in the state in 2022, equating to eight individuals per day on average, or one fatal overdose every three hours. The report also found that close to 16% of the state’s population had some form of substance abuse disorder.

The report, released on Monday, Feb. 5, by New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a nonprofit agency with a social mission to remove all barriers to employment for citizens returning from jail or prison, says the most serious of the state’s drug-related problems occur in a five-county area of South Jersey. The rate of hospital visits for drug-related issues was found to be highest in Atlantic County, followed by Cape May County. The next three highest counties, in order, were Cumberland, Camden and Salem.

A second report, released on Tuesday, Feb. 6, by the State Commission on Investigation, found numerous failures of oversight that allowed fraud and conduct detrimental to effective treatment in the state’s addiction recovery system.

It found that most organizations involved in addiction recovery have engaged in no wrongdoing, but that unscrupulous individuals have diverted state addiction recovery funds for personal gain.

No programs in Cape May County were singled out in the report, but specific abuses were identified in Atlantic County.

The report contained a number of recommendations to tighten oversight, including strengthening license and inspection standards for treatment centers, dealing with deceptive marketing practices and tightening oversight of entities that seek public monies for addiction recovery services.

The State Commission on Investigation report adds that the objective to connect persons to treatment must be met with an appropriate eye toward also closing the doors to abuse in the treatment system.

In the New Jersey Reentry Corporation’s report, titled “The Scourge of Drug Addiction in New Jersey,” one focus is on the almost 16% of the population the report found to be struggling with substance abuse.

The report argues that the opioid epidemic continues in the state. It points to the widespread impact of the epidemic either through direct problems with addiction or through its influence on the families and friends of those who struggle with abuse.

It says that two-thirds of those who sought substance abuse disorder treatment in New Jersey were unable to obtain it because providers are not able to adequately respond to rising demand.

The report identifies appropriate uses for monies in the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund. Bills are currently being considered in the Legislature for the use of those funds.

The report concludes: “Access and linkage to comprehensive holistic and integrative behavioral health treatment are essential to a robust response to the scourge of addiction in this state.”

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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