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3 things to know about New Jersey's heroin and opioid problem

New Jersey, like many states in the country, is continuing to fight against illegal drug use. One area that the state is focusing on is the use of heroin and prescription drugs like opioids.

Why heroin and prescription drugs are often lumped together? There is a subset of prescription drugs that affect the body in a manner similar to using heroin. People may be prescribed these drugs, such as opioids, as pain killers after suffering an injury.

While using this prescription medication the user may become addicted. What started as a means to relieve pain from an injury or medical procedure could lead to a serious and dangerous addiction. Once the prescription runs out, some may turn to heroin - a cheaper, illegal alternative to get a similar result.

Just how bad is heroin and opioid use in New Jersey? According to a recent report by the Asbury Park Press, over 1,200 people died from overdoes in 2014 in New Jersey alone.

What is New Jersey doing to help those who become addicted to these drugs? The state recently received a million dollar grant specifically focused at addressing this problem. The grant is designed to help both provide care for those fighting addiction and fund enforcement efforts.

It is important to note that anyone with a drug problem, heroin or prescription, may be suffering from an addiction. There is a movement within the criminal justice system to focus on treatment and reform instead of punishment and incarceration. Although this movement is promising, it is not in full effect.

As such, those who face charges for drug crimes need to take the charges seriously. Criminal penalties can apply and can include monetary fines and imprisonment. A conviction can result in a downward spiral, as it leads to the presence of a criminal record. A conviction and the presence of a criminal record can make it difficult to find employment, housing and even to pursue educational opportunities.

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