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East Orange

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East Orange, New Jersey

Tucked away in Northeast New Jersey lies the city of East Orange. Home to about 64,000 residents, East Orange is the 14th largest urban setting in New Jersey. However, just outside of Newark and a short commute from New York, East Orange is exposed to a range of big-city issues. One such issue is substance and alcohol abuse, as well as crimes associated with drug use. Two state highways run through the city, making it highly accessible to these larger cities and also a recipient of problems like drug trafficking and distribution. East Orange is classified as predominantly an urban enterprise zone, and most of the area is highly developed. Like much of New Jersey, the drug landscape is driven by users and sellers in long-standing drug markets that exist within these highly accessible and developed urban markets. Many of the drug seizure arrests that occur in East Orange take place on the two state highways that pass through the city. This article provides information on drug and alcohol usage data in East Orange where available, as well as draws comparisons to broader East Sussex county, New Jersey state, and national data. 

City Arrest Records

        East Orange faces many challenges with drug and alcohol usage, which have increased over time. The prevalence of excessive drinking in East Orange is about 17%, which reflects an increase of about 1.6% over the previous year. The rate of excessive drinking has increased every year since 2015. Additionally, the percentage of automobile accidences involving alcohol that led to death was about 25%, which also represents an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. East Sussex has also more homicides than any other county in New Jersey. Drug and alcohol crime rates for East Orange parallel state levels and reflect a relatively large problem with crime in New Jersey. The state has experienced a growing problem with heroin and opiate distribution, as well as increasing numbers of traffic stops involving impaired driving. In particular, impaired driving involving heroin or opiate usage has increased since 2015.

There were more than 100,000 arrests related to alcohol and drug-related crimes in 2010 alone, with about 700 arrests for every 100,000 residents regarding alcohol issues and 721 for drugs. During this same year, there were more than 300 arrests for every 100,000 residents for driving under the influence and nearly 600 for drug abuse. East Sussex also boasts the state’s highest rate of drug-related arrests, with 1,237 per 100,000 residents. East Sussex county also has among the state’s highest rates of juvenile alcohol and drug arrests with 312 and 391 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

East Orange’s drug and alcohol problems may be the root of another alarming trend faced by the city. Violent crime in East Orange is among the highest of any urban region in the United States, both small and large. These include assault using arms, aggravated assault, armed robbery, manslaughter, murder, and rape. In 2015, there were nearly 17 murders per every 100,000 citizens and the rate of violent crimes in East Orange is more than double that of the remainder of New Jersey. While East Orange is not as dangerous as Newark, it is much more so than nearby smaller cities like West Orange and South Orange. About 30% of all aggravated assaults in the state of New Jersey are attributable to alcohol.

In 2015, there was a 9% increase in total drug-related charges in the state of New Jersey, and East Orange is in the top 20 cities in New Jersey with respect to drug-related arrests. Males represent about 80% of all drug-related rests, while 45% are attributable to white males. About 25% of arrests are related to individuals aged 18 to 21. Interestingly, less than half of all drug-related arrests that occur in East Orange are related to residents, illustrating the problems that occur with drug trafficking due to its proximity to Newark and New York. 

Local Drug Of Choice

There is limited data on individual city drug usage, though some county and statewide data does exist. The biggest drug-related problem faced by the state of New Jersey is heroin and opiates, followed by alcohol. While many states face similar problems with alcohol, New Jersey illustrates a growing trend in the United States that is only now being discovered with respect to opiate abuse and addiction. This problem is believed by many to be related to the high number of prescriptions for opiate based painkillers for the treatment of pain and other issues. Because of their being highly addictive and also very costly (particularly to those without health insurance), many eventually turn to street sources for pure heroin.  In addition to alcohol and heroin, cocaine, crack, and marijuana usage in New Jersey is also higher than the national average. 

City Demographics & Contributions to Drug Use

          Many of these drug and alcohol issues may be related to demographic factors in the city of East Orange. Specifically, evidence suggests that drug and alcohol abuse and arrests are significantly and negatively correlated with income. The median income in 2010 was about $40,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a family. The per capita income in East Orange is just $20,000, or slightly above the federal poverty line. Nearly 20% of families and more than 21% of families in East Orange live below the poverty line. Nearly one third of all individuals under the age of 18 in East Orange live in poverty.

          Demographic data of substance abuse treatment admissions also helps to reveal some of the causes of these issues in East Orange. In 2011, more than 60% of treatment admissions involve individuals of Caucasian descent. More than half of all cases involved individuals without high school degrees, and about 30% were unemployed. A total of 70% were never married, and 20% represented individuals between 35 and 44. The majority of the residents of East Orange are African American or Black, with about 90% identifying as one of these two racial categories. Additionally, East Orange has the largest concentrations of residents from Guyana in the United States. 

Drug and Alcohol Treatment

          While drugs and alcohol do represent significant problems in East Orange, there have been some promising efforts to improve the availability of treatment options and initiatives have been proposed to implement long-term preventative efforts in the community to tackle this issue. Some estimate suggest that four out of five users of heroin become addicted by first being prescribed opiate based painkillers. About 40% of all substance abuse admissions included residential treatment in 2011. The majority of those receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse are Caucasian, with about 22% being African American and 14% Hispanic. These drug treatment rates do not match arrest records and crime rates for drug and alcohol, suggesting a racial imbalance in who is being arrested for these crimes and also who has access to treatment. East Sussex has the third highest number of substance abuse admissions in the state, as well as the highest for drugs and the third highest for alcohol.

          Of the nearly 7,000 substance abuse treatment admissions in Essex County in 2011, more than 3,200 were related to heroin or other opiates, while under 1,500 were in regards to alcohol. Nearly twice as many men as women enter treatment for substance abuse, with the majority entering between the ages of 24 and 44. While East Sussex boasts one of the lowest rates of treatment center admissions for alcohol in the state, it boasts the highest involving heroin.

          Several different modalities of care exist with regards to treatment for East Orange’s drug and alcohol problems, including emergency care, short-term residential environments, extended care, hallway houses, long-term residential care, residential detoxification, and hospital detoxification. The receipt of care in these settings typically involves a process of assessment, pre-intake, intake, detoxification, either inpatient or outpatient care, aftercare, and sober living. Each of these components of care is discussed further below.  

Assessment

Assessment is a critical step in the treatment process for drug and alcohol. This process involves screening of drug and alcohol problems through the collection of user data on drug and alcohol usage, history, and other indications of addiction. Through the use of a range of validated instruments, information gathered from the assessment can be used to help professionals better understand patient needs and make the appropriate service referral. Additionally, assessment can be used to potentially diagnose a substance abuse disorder. 

Pre-Intake

        Information obtained from the assessment process is used to help inform the pre-intake, which is completed by a chemical addictions specialist or another drug and alcohol treatment professional. The pre-intake serves as an elaboration of the assessment phase, and also designed to guide the subsequent intake. The pre-intake will help the professional better interpret outcomes of the assessment process and provide important notes to structure the intake. 

Intake

The intake will serve as the foundation of treatment, and is conducted by a chemical addictions specialist, physician, psychologist, or counselor. This process involves an individual interview with a professional that will eventually lead to admission to the appropriate level of care, including detoxification, inpatient treatment, or outpatient treatment. The intake also allows for the professional to better understand patients’ mental health needs and health and usage history. A mental health screening will be performed during the intake, which will also help determine environmental contributors to substance and alcohol usage. It is important that patients answer questions honestly during this phase in order to receive the best possible type of care and subsequent outcomes.

Detox

Detoxification is an important component of rehabilitation in many cases, such as those involving addiction to heroin, other opiates and alcohol. The immediate removal of a source of chemical dependency can produce withdrawals that are very challenging to manage individually and often lead to relapse. Under the supervision of qualified health professionals and sometimes through the regulated administration of methadone, these withdrawal symptoms can be managed safely and allow for traces of chemicals to be eliminated from the body’s metabolic system. Detoxification is needed to complete subsequent steps of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and promotes mental and physical stabilization. 

Inpatient Treatment (RTC, PHP, IOP)

Inpatient treatment involves residence in a licensed drug and alcohol treatment facility or hospital and consistent supervision and monitoring by a health professional to guide the initial phase of care. This type of care may involve residential treatment, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient treatment. The type of care provided depends on the results of the assessment, pre-intake, and intake, and plays a critical role in determining rehabilitative outcomes. Inpatient treatment centers in East Orange provide 24-hour drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, as well as assisted living services to help patients eventually take control of their own care. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment involves the receipt of care for drug and alcohol use without direct or continual supervision in a controlled residential environment. Outpatient treatment can take various forms, including intensive outpatient care, opioid maintenance, non-methadone detoxification, and methadone detoxification. Opioid maintenance represents about 10% of all outpatient care admissions in New Jersey. Outpatient care is also a subsequent phase of inpatient care and can help former residents effectively cope with precursors to relapse, as well as integrate with the community through obtaining employment and a personal residence.

Aftercare and Sober Living

Aftercare

Addictions typically require continued monitoring, and aftercare is available as part of most inpatient and outpatient programs to help offer support to patients as they take the reigns of their recovery process. A primary purpose of aftercare is to prevent relapse, and patients who undergo this process are taught coping skills to help manage environmental contributors to this occurrence. Aftercare commonly involves group counselling, individual therapy, and/or 12-step programs.

Sober Living

Sober living is a philosophy that is promoted throughout recovery and rehabilitation. By the time the aftercare phase of treatment has been reached, patients should be equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to engage in a life of sobriety and free of relapse. Though relapses occur, patients who adopt sober living principles continue to work towards clean living through a combination of self-sufficiency, avoiding situational triggers, and utilizing available community resources to continue to receive treatment and also share with others. 

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