Information About Substance Dependence and Substance Use Disorder

Substance Use Disorder (SUD): People can be diagnosed with a specific type of SUD based on the primary substance that they are experiencing issues with, such as opioid use disorder (OUD) or stimulant use disorder. Many patients with SUD experience issues with multiple substances (polysubstance use disorder).

Injection Drug Use (IDU): The overdose crisis—both on a statewide and national level—has also brought to light an increased and ongoing incidence of blood-borne infections, from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to viral hepatitis to bacterial infections. These infections are primarily borne from contaminated drug injection equipment and low vaccination rates among at-risk populations.

Fentanyl: Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is available in many derivatives of varying potency. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and is commonly used to treat severe pain and for end-of-life care. Non-pharmaceutical (illicit) fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin or cocaine.

Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT): FDA-approved medications can be used to safely and effectively treat OUD, and alcohol use disorder (AUD). MAT is clinically effective to help manage cravings and withdrawal, leading to long-term recovery.

Harm Reduction: For people who stop their treatment plan at any time, or who are not ready to stop using drugs, there are harm reduction strategies and resources to help keep them safe until they are ready to continue their treatment plan or begin a plan.

Sterile Needle and Syringe Access: Sharing needles, and using used needles, increases risk of diseases like HIV and hepatitis. It is critically important for people who inject drugs (PWID) to always use a new, sterile needle and syringe if they are going to inject drugs. Even reusing personal needles can cause damage to skin tissue and veins.

In New Jersey, pharmacies can sell up to two hypodermic needles and syringes, without a prescription, to customers 18 years or older who provide valid photo identification. (P.L.2011, c.183)

Individuals can exchange used supplies and obtain sterile supplies at local syringe services programs (SSPs). The Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) provides a mobile van at 2600 Mount Ephraim Avenue where individuals can obtain sterile needles and syringes, fentanyl test strips, condoms, and other lifesaving equipment and resources. Hours of operation are Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Naloxone and Overdose Prevention: All people who use drugs (PWUD), patients who are prescribed opioids, and loved ones should keep naloxone on them in case someone overdoses. The most common form is NARCAN® Nasal Spray. Naloxone is available with a prescription from providers, and over the counter in pharmacies in New Jersey. Additionally, the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition will mail intramuscular naloxone to those who cannot otherwise access it: