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Heroin Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

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Heroin treatment programs typically involve medical detox followed by a residential addiction treatment program that can provide 24/7 care and support to promote long-term recovery. Boca Recovery in Galloway, New Jersey, has a range of options to support heroin addiction recovery.

Heroin is an illegal opioid drug that is extremely addictive. Using heroin can lead to drug dependence quickly, which comes with difficult withdrawal symptoms and significant cravings when trying to stop using the drug. It can be easy to overdose on heroin, often fatally.

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States, aged 12 and older, had a substance use disorder involving heroin in 2020.

Heroin Use Statistics in New Jersey

The opioid, and heroin, public health crisis is especially rampant in New Jersey.

Heroin is an extremely powerful and potent illicit opioid drug. Opioid drugs also include prescription pain medications, and they can be harder to get as frequently with crackdowns on the misuse of prescription drugs. Often, heroin becomes a cheaper and easier-to-obtain alternative.

Drug use statistics usually include the entire class of drug. Therefore, opioids and heroin are often lumped together.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in the United States, there were 46,802 overdose deaths involving an opioid drug like heroin in 2018. This made up 70 percent of all drug overdose fatalities that year. By comparison, there were 2,583 opioid overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2018, but this made up 90 percent of all drug overdose deaths.

Overdose deaths are one of the ways that drug use can be measured. These other statistics indicate heroin use in New Jersey:

  • Naloxone (Narcan), which is an opioid overdose reversal drug, was administered 36,923 times between January 2019 and August 2021 in New Jersey.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, approximately 5 percent of all substance use treatment admissions in New Jersey cited heroin as the primary drug of use.
  • Nearly 35,000 people in New Jersey were admitted to substance use treatment in 2020 for heroin use.
  • There were 7 per 100,000 population drug-related hospital visits in New Jersey involving heroin in 2019, which were not fatal overdoses.
  • In 2019, there were close to 600 babies born in New Jersey who were suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which happens when the mother regularly uses opioid drugs during pregnancy.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin is an addictive drug that makes changes to the chemical makeup and connections in the brain. When used regularly, heroin can cause drug tolerance and then dependence.

Tolerance is when more of the drug has to be taken to feel the same “high.” Dependence means that the brain expects the drug to be active in the system. When it is not, withdrawal symptoms can kick in.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms typically start within the first 12 hours after the last use of the drug. Early symptoms can include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Tearing up
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia

Later symptoms of heroin withdrawal can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Involuntary leg movements

Heroin withdrawal symptoms are typically at their worst within 24 and 48 hours of last taking the drug. They generally last around a week. Persistent withdrawal symptoms, like low moods, irritability, sleep issues, drug cravings, and trouble thinking clearly or focusing, can continue for a few months.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can range in severity and duration, depending on how long and how often heroin was used. The average dose level and the method of use also influence the severity and duration of withdrawal.

Heroin is highly addictive. Regular and repeated use can quickly lead to the chronic and relapsing disease of addiction.

Treatment Options for Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is typically treated with behavioral therapies or medications. It’s optimal when both of these treatment methods are used together at the same time, NIDA reports. Medications can minimize drug cravings, lessen the intensity and effects of heroin withdrawal, and promote abstinence.

Behavioral treatments can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which can help a person to become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and how these directly relate to the way they act. Behavior modifications can promote a healthier lifestyle and teach coping skills and methods for managing triggers through both group and individual therapy sessions.

There are also several different levels of care for heroin addiction treatment.

  • Detox: Medications are often used to manage heroin withdrawal symptoms while the drug processes out of the body in a safe and secure environment.
  • Outpatient treatment: Programs can provide therapies, life skills workshops, and support group meetings for a few hours at a time, allowing people the flexibility to keep up with other commitments.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): This is a more structured outpatient format that typically offers two back-to-back 90-minute treatment sessions at least three days per week.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): A partial hospitalization program follows a strict structure of programming for several hours per day, five days per week.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment: The highest level of treatment provides around-the-clock structure, support, and supervision, offering a range of programs and options customized to the individual.
  • Transitional living environment: Sober living environments are often a step down from a residential treatment program to prepare a person for full integration back into society following rehab.

The type and level of care needed depend on personal needs and circumstances as well as the severity of heroin addiction. When physical and psychological dependence on heroin are significant, a medical detox program followed by a residential addiction treatment program is often the optimal option for a sustained recovery.

Heroin Laws in New Jersey

Heroin is a federally controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), in which heroin is listed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule I drugs are classified as illegal with no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse. Heroin possession is considered a federal offense.

In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess any amount of heroin. If caught with heroin, it is considered a third-degree felony that can be punishable by up to five years in prison and hefty fines. Distribution, sale, or heroin trafficking is a much more serious offense that can mean a significant long-term prison sentence.

Boca Recovery’s Heroin Addiction Treatment Program

Offering a luxury 22-bed residential treatment and medical detoxification program, Boca Recovery’s heroin addiction treatment program is individualized for each person. Located close to the Jersey Shore, the Boca Recovery Center can provide a safe and supportive environment where a person can receive care and encouragement 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The initial goal of treatment is medical stabilization, which is often achieved through medical detoxification in a specialized program that provides individual medical management and constant support and supervision.

After stabilizing physically, individuals can then smoothly transition into the residential program where the psychological aspects of addiction can be addressed and managed.

Recovery Community in New Jersey

Heroin addiction is a complex and chronic disease, and support during recovery and after treatment is vital. There are several options for recovery support in New Jersey from peer-based services to community outreach programs and nonprofit organizations. Connection to a recovery community can be a huge asset in sustained recovery.

Peer-based support groups, such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), can provide a 12-step approach to recovery, with a wide variety of meeting types and locations for ongoing support and understanding. To find an NA meeting near you, use the NJ Statewide Meeting Directory and enter your local New Jersey zip code. The AA Meeting Locator also offers a directory of AA groups and meetings all over New Jersey.

The State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services offers a listing of recovery support resources (RSSs) as well.

FAQs on Heroin Addiction & Treatment

Why is heroin so addictive?

Heroin creates a warm rush and sense of euphoria very quickly after taking it. This “high” can be very desirable, and the “crash” after coming down is the opposite. This can lead a person to keep taking heroin — to avoid the crash.

Heroin also works on the pleasure and reward center in the brain, making chemical and functional changes that become more ingrained with repeated use.

Can you die from withdrawal?

It is possible. Heroin is an extremely addictive and dangerous drug that can kill.

Heroin withdrawal can be intense with severe flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, it is possible to die from persistent vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause sodium levels to go up, significant dehydration, and heart failure.

Heroin withdrawal is not typically fatal directly, but cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms can cause you to want to use more heroin. Using heroin at the same level after stopping it for any amount of time can cause a fatal overdose.

Can you become addicted to heroin the first time you use it?

While you cannot get addicted to heroin with one use, you may want to do it again quickly to repeat the feeling, even if you only do it one time. The crash following use can be intense and may make you want to repeat use.

The way you use heroin matters too. For example, injecting it sends it quickly into the bloodstream, which can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction in fewer uses. Using heroin repeatedly can cause physical and psychological dependence and then addiction.

Addiction is caused by persistent and regular use, and heroin is one of the most addictive drugs.

What is synthetic heroin?

Synthetic heroin, or synthetic opioids, are man-made instead of coming directly from the opium poppy plant. These products can be even more dangerous, as they are not regulated and often more potent in smaller doses than heroin is.

They can also contain toxic additives. It is impossible to know what is in the synthetic version of the drug.

How long does heroin stay in your system?

Heroin has a short half-life of only about 30 minutes or so, which means that it works quickly to create the high and then wears off quickly as well. It can be detected with a typical urine drug test for about two days after using it, and it can be detected in your hair for up to three months.

Heroin processes out of the body fairly quickly, but the true length of time it stays in your system depends on your metabolism, weight, medical health, and genetic factors.

Updated April 24, 2023
  1. Substance Use Disorder for Specific Substances in Past Year: Among People Aged 12 or Older; By Age Group, Numbers in Thousands, 2019 and 2020. (2020). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
  2. New Jersey: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. (April 2020). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  3. Naloxone (Narcan). (August 2021). State of New Jersey Department of Health.
  4. Population Health. (August 2021). State of New Jersey Department of Health.
  5. Drug-Related Hospital Visits. (August 2021). State of New Jersey Department of Health.
  6. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. (August 2021). State of New Jersey Department of Health.
  7. Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal. (November 2021). U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
  8. What Are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use? (June 2021). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  9. What Are the Treatments for Heroin Use Disorder? (June 2021). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  10. Drug Scheduling. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  11. New Jersey Statewide Meeting Directory. NJ Narcotics Anonymous.
  12. Find AA Meetings Near New Jersey. AA Meeting Locator.
  13. Recovery Support Resources. State of New Jersey.
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