Heroin use among NJ youth highest in nation

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:55

    NEW JERSEY — Heroin is used by 18- to 25-year-olds in New Jersey at more than twice the national average, and officials who released a report on drug abuse Monday said the highly addictive drug is easy to get in the Garden State. While marijuana was reported to be the most-tried illegal drug in the state, the federally funded report showed that 5 percent of the younger adults had heroin habits, compared to 2.5 percent nationally. New Jersey's shipping ports, small geographic size and high population density make distributing heroin easier here than in other states, said Carolann Kane-Cavaiola, assistant commissioner for the state's Division on Addiction Services. ``We're the first ones that get it,'' Kane-Cavaiola said. ``In New Jersey, the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration), along with other law enforcement and emergency rooms know that we have the best and cheapest heroin in the country.'' The survey, conducted in 2002 and 2003, found marijuana was the most used illegal drug in New Jersey, with 30 percent of those surveyed reporting that they tried it at least once. The national average is 40.6 percent. ``Marijuana, we're concerned about because it is the most frequently used even though we're below the national average. It's being used by young children and it starts out innocently, and it becomes a gateway to more serious (drugs),'' said Ed Rogan, spokesman for the Department of Human Services. Cocaine, hallucinogens and non-prescribed stimulants and pain relievers followed marijuana use, respectively. Use of drugs such as crack, steroids, ecstasy, sedatives, methamphetamines and tranquilizers were the least reported.