Heroin Use is Up Among NJ Youth

Heroin use is on the rise among New Jersey’s youth, particularly in suburban areas.

The number of people between the ages of 18 and 25 admitted to treatment centers for heroin addiction has increased by more than 12 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to data from governor’s Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

"I would say it’s an epidemic," Dover Detective Sgt. Richard Gonzalez told The Star-Ledger. "It’s stronger, it’s cheaper and a lot of kids think it’s popular, so they try it once and then they are hooked."

Seemingly innocuous text messages and Facebook posts actually let buyers know what’s available and where, according to the Ledger.  And High-school students, unwilling or unable to travel to urban areas, can pay extra to have the drug delivered. The paper reports that a bag of heroin that costs $5 in Newark can cost $10 in Morristown.

Many are getting hooked because of the low cost, but also because of prescription opiates. "We’re seeing a greater number of addictions to heroin as a result of prescription painkillers,” Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns III told the Ledger.

The problem has not gone unnoticed. The Christie administration commissioned a task force, including officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Attorney General’s Office and former Gov. Jim McGreevey, to combat the "epidemic of heroin and other opiate abuse," among the state’s younger population.  The report is due out later this year.