The fastest way for an adult to get a treatment bed for heroin addiction in New Jersey is to get arrested, says NJ.com. It's a growing reality that's troubling for treatment providers and substance abusers alike. Heroin and opioid use is ubiquitous in the state's 21 counties. There aren't nearly enough beds for the tens of thousands seeking treatment. Increasingly, the clearest path to long-term treatment for anyone in New Jersey is to acquire a criminal record. “If you're arrested you can get drug court, you can get into the system. If you don't commit a crime in many cases, you can't get access to in-patient care,” said state Sen. Joseph Vitale. “The system is upside-down in some places.”
Since its expansion under Gov. Chris Christie, drug court has been widely praised as a beneficial and alternative path to incarceration by guaranteeing treatment for non-violent drug offenders who follow a strictly enforced program. Drug court takes advantage of already existing beds in the state's substance abuse treatment infrastructure, cutting into what few slots there are for people who need help but who have not been formally charged with a crime. An analysis by NJ Advance Media shows there are just 2,375 licensed residential treatment beds in New Jersey, and the number of beds per person in the Garden State pales in comparison to the its nearest neighbors: New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.