Many Jersey residents are shocked to discover that heroin is the fastest growing drug in the Garden state.

Steven Liga, the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says, "Heroin has been the drug of choice all over Jersey for several years now for - because we've got the purest heroin in the country - it's shipped to Jersey from south and central America - and then distributed all over the east coast - so our heroin is purer and cheaper than in other parts of the country."

He says, "We can get heroin here that's in the 90 percent purity range- whereas somebody in North Carolina might get 35 percent pure…and because it's so pure, you can use it nasally - you can snort the drug - instead of having to use a needle - so ours is cheaper, it's more pure, and for at least your initial period of use, you don't need to use a needle."

Liga adds, "People who start out with prescription drugs - if they become addicted and suddenly can't get it from their doctor any longer - getting those prescription drugs on the street or online is very expensive - heroin will give the same effect for much cheaper…so what happens is some people can't afford to keep the prescription drug habit- so they have to switch to a more economical drug - and in New Jersey that would be heroin."

He points out, "Our heroin is so pure that you can snort our heroin - very much like you could snort cocaine…as your tolerance gets greater then you may have to move to a needle - but in Jersey since you can start snorting heroin - that reduces the stigma considerably - when people are going to switch to a drug, most folks at least early in their addiction say, 'Well, I would never use a needle.'"

Liga points out, "You can start off snorting the heroin, but over time as your tolerance grows, that's not going to be enough…so at some point you will switch to that needle…and if you do overdose, that can shut down your entire respiratory system - so you essentially go to sleep and never wake up…if it's too much…their body can't process it, it shuts down that central nervous system -the part of the system that does the autonomic things like breathing and heartbeat."