The heroin epidemic that is plaguing the nation has also hit
Secaucus, NJ. In Hudson County, in which Secaucus is located, heroin accounted
for 33 percent of its substance abuse treatment admissions in 2016.
Secaucus has a population of 18,311, and it continues to grow
every year. The city is made up of 45 percent white, 27 percent Asian, 20
percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black residents. Forty-one years old is the
median age in Secaucus. About half of the residents are married and around 7
percent are divorced.
The main industries in Secaucus are finance and insurance;
professional, scientific, and tech services; and educational services. The median
household income is $98,000, which is about $20,000 more than the New Jersey
average and $40,000 more than the national average. The poverty rate is about 7
percent, which is about half the national average.
Despite Secaucus’ high standard of living and small
population size, heroin is nevertheless the top drug problem the city is facing.
Drug Problems in
Multiple heroin arrests have been made in Secaucus in the
last couple of years, with several of those being Mexican drug cartel and gang
members. There were millions of dollars’ worth of heroin confiscated from them.
Some of the other heroin arrests were Secaucus residents, while other arrests
were people passing through the city.
Heroin busts may have become a frequent occurrence in Secaucus,
but fortunately so have the residents’ requests for drug treatment. City-data.com
lists Secaucus #28 in the top 101 cities with people in homes or halfway houses
for drugs or alcohol; that accounts for 1.8% of the population in Secaucus.
In 2016, Hudson County had the following admissions to drug
abuse treatment facilities:
Percent of Admissions
Other Drugs 6%
Other Opiates 4%
Marijuana and alcohol aren’t far behind heroin in the number
of people seeking help for addiction. Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey;
however, there is only one dispensary in the city of Secaucus. Unlike other
states that are more lenient, New Jersey only allows medical marijuana for
seizure disorder, glaucoma, cachexia, inflammatory bowel disease, terminal
cancer, and PTSD. No home cultivation is allowed.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that heroin use
is 19 times higher in people who have used opioid painkillers than in those who
have never used them. This makes it important to note that other opiate abuse only
accounted for a small percent of people reaching out for help in Hudson County.
Nationally, heroin has been called a public health crisis. Young
adults between the ages of 18-25 are the group of heroin users that is growing
the most quickly. Smaller towns are not immune to heroin’s power, either. Rural
areas have seen an uptick in heroin addiction and overdoses in the past several
It’s estimated that heroin was involved in 1,200 of New
Jersey’s overdose deaths in 2016. In 2015, Hudson County alone had 64 heroin-related
The United States has had more than a 200 percent increase
in opioid deaths since 2000. Hudson County had 47 deaths due to opioids other
than heroin in 2015.
In addition to heroin, one of the main causes of overdoses
in Hudson County is fentanyl. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than
heroin. It is commonly found in combination with heroin in cases of overdoses. In
2015, fetanyl killed 18 people in Hudson County.
New Jersey’s Anti-Addiction
Because of the high number of overdoses in the state, in
2017, New Jersey passed legislation making it illegal for insurance companies
to deny substance abuse treatment to subscribers if it was prescribed by their
doctor. Insurance waiting periods that could negatively affect a person’s
recovery were also done away with. Insurance companies are now required to
allow subscribers at least 180 days of substance abuse treatment, and treatment
for substance abuse conditions must be treated in the same way as other
conditions, i.e., deductibles and copays must be equivalent.
Taking the First Step
Deciding to take the first step and seek help is one of the
most critical parts of substance abuse recovery. Recovery is not easy and it’s
a lifelong process, but it’s one that your life depends on. If you aren’t
familiar with drug treatment, the following may help you understand it a little
better. The types of treatment described are in general terms; no two treatment
plans are the same.
An assessment is a series of questions that helps identify
risk factors or red flags of substance abuse. It can be self-administered,
given by a family member, or it can be administered by a professional,
including doctors and therapists or counselors.
You can find substance abuse assessments online if you would
like to take one yourself. Some treatment centers offer their own assessments
on their websites.
Pre-intake is the process before drug treatment when the
prospective patient answers questions online, on the phone, or occasionally in
person, about their drug use. This is usually done prior to the individual
arriving at the facility. The intake professional can then assess whether the
treatment center is a good fit for that particular person. The person can also
decide if it sounds like the right place for him or her. The intake
professional can also give information on the types of programs available and
the financial obligation required.
This step is basically to initiate and set the treatment
process in motion once a decision and commitment have been made to seek help.
Some treatment centers require a more detailed pre-intake than others.
During intake, a therapist or intake professional will ask the
person questions regarding their current drug use and their drug use history.
He or she will also ask them questions about their home life and financial
situation. There may even be questions asked about the person’s parents’ and
siblings drug use. These may seem unrelated to drug treatment, but they are all
important questions that help the addiction professionals treat the person in
the most effective way possible.
During the intake procedure, any questions that are
important to the person about the program, center, or treatment plan should be
asked by him or her. This will help to determine whether the center and program
are right for the person.
Detoxification is when all of a drug is removed or leaves a
person’s body. It is an important part of drug treatment, but by no means is it
treatment on its own.
Heroin is a powerful drug, and its withdrawal symptoms can
be brutal. Detoxing from heroin is dangerous, and it is best done under the
guidance of medical professionals. Withdrawal symptoms include severe fatigue,
vomiting, hallucinations, and even seizures. It’s an unpleasant experience, to
say the least. Because of the risks, detoxing from heroin may be done in a
hospital setting, where the proper personnel and tools are available. Symptoms
may start within hours after the last use of heroin, and they may continue for
days or weeks.
Detoxing in a treatment center can be done using a drug,
such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, or through behavioral therapy.
During the detox period, a patient is monitored and supervised around the
clock. Professionals can reduce the risk of self-harm or relapse in the patient.
Exactly how the detox is done is different for everyone and is based on the
kind of drug, how long it was taken, and the patient’s body.
A lot of people who treat their heroin addiction do so in an
inpatient program. There are two main types of inpatient treatment centers: residential
treatment centers (RTC) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).
These programs may be located in a hospital or in a
separate, standalone building. Some inpatient programs have their centers on
spacious grounds or in remote locations, while others prefer to be more
centered around a medical facility. There are inpatient programs that work
around patients’ job obligations, allowing them to perform their duties onsite.
Also popular are luxury treatment centers that are more like resorts than
Because substance abuse and addiction affects both mind and
body, most programs use multi-pronged approaches to treatment. Patients may
even receive a physical exam. Some even offer dual-diagnosis programs that
treat not only substance abuse, but also mental health conditions that the
person may have. Depression is commonly found among people with substance abuse
problems, and a dual-diagnosis program is able to deal with both the drug abuse
and with the depression that may be more prevalent when the drug use is
RTCs are centers in which a patient lives for a period of
time. They are sometimes referred to as rehabs. Here patients are usually
exposed to a 12-step program and group and/or individual therapy. It may be
suggested that the patient and his or her family participate in family therapy,
too. A patient may also see a psychiatrist while in an RTC. Some long-term RTCs
have stays anywhere from six to 12 months, but it is more common for a patient
to stay 30 days. The length of stay is also determined by the patient’s
This type of program is commonly recommended for people
fighting heroin addiction since it is the most intensive treatment available.
It’s important that the patient is away from people he or she used with and not
in situations that may be tempting to use while newly sober. Inpatient programs
provide a perfect opportunity for them to become immersed in recovery, with no
outside distractions. Contact with friends and family is usually limited.
A PHP has the same drug program as an RTC, including group
and individual therapy, and 12-step meetings, but the patient is only in the
facility for six to eight hours a day, five to seven days a week. They return
home in the evenings. Counseling and aftercare are usually included in PHPs. PHPs
are sometimes done after an RTC program has been completed.
A PHP is a good choice for someone who has a lot of support
at home but cannot stay as an inpatient, perhaps because of insurance reasons.
Intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a program similar to a
PHP, but the patient is only in the facility a few hours a day, and less
frequently during the week. These programs are good for someone who has already
completed a more intensive program or cannot be a full-time resident due to
work obligations, but the programs are usually not recommended as the
first-line treatment for heroin addiction; however, every case is unique. The
therapies and 12-step groups used in these kinds of programs are the same as in
an inpatient program.
Aftercare, which is sometimes referred to as follow-up, is
an important part of heroin recovery in order to prevent relapses. It helps to solidify
and reinforce the principles that were taught during the treatment portion.
Group 12-step meetings and group therapy, as well as individual and family
therapy, may be recommended after a patient completes a drug treatment program.
Aftercare usually lasts anywhere from a few months to a year.
If a drug such as methadone was used in detox and treatment,
that therapy may continue indefinitely. Some people who are recovering from a
heroin addiction remain on methadone, but others are weaned off of it after
they leave substance abuse treatment.
Sober living facilities are sometimes called halfway houses
or community residential treatment facilities. They’re places in which people
sometimes live after completing treatment. There, people in recovery are
encouraged to attend 12-step meetings and possibly therapy. A sober living
facility is a good transition from the protection of a treatment center back
into the same world the person used to use drugs in. They learn to live as
sober, drug-free people while living there. Drug testing is usually required,
and the houses have rules that residents must follow. While they’re living there,
people can usually return to work and have contact with their family.