A new public service campaign has been launched to raise awareness about the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in the Garden State.

US Attorney For NJ at launch of prescription drug abuse campaign (David Matthau, Townsquare Media)

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman says, "There's an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Jersey and the nation that's responsible for personal tragedy, widespread suffering, and enormous financial loss. It is one of the biggest dangers to our communities, whether they are rich or poor urban, suburban or rural, North, Central or South Jersey. It leads to addiction, accidental death and violence in our streets, as well as lost revenue and ineffective treatment for disease."

He says, used correctly, medicines of all types provide an incredible benefit.

"But when those medicines are abused or misused, the consequences can be disastrous…More people abuse prescription drugs than the number of people who use cocaine, methamphetamine heroin, and inhalants combined…Every day about 66 hundred people begin to abuse prescription drugs in this country. That is, to use them beyond the way they're directed or for entirely different purpose…And today, 25 hundred teenagers in this country will use a prescription drug to get high for the first time."

Poster from prescription drug abuse campaign (Townsquare Media NJ)

Brian Crowwell, DEA Special Agent in charge of New Jersey, says, "Decreasing prescription drug trafficking - notably painkillers taken by our children and our young adults - and subsequently linked to heroin trafficking - is our number one priority in New Jersey…The DEA has teams now investigating the trafficking of prescription pain medications, and this includes targets representing the traditional drug trafficker that you're familiar with on the street-corner, and those ranging to rogue doctors to rogue pharmacist…In this last year, we've tripled the number of our active investigations, targeting heroin, and diverted pain pill traffickers…Heroin is opiate based, as are many painkillers - and when kids get hooked on prescription drugs, many can't afford to keep up the habit because they have to spend 35 dollars to 80 dollars per pill, depending on what they're buying. But a bag of heroin can be 5 to 10 dollars, so if they're an opiate addict they're going to seek out the heroin."

To combat the problem, officials have launched the "Right Prescription for New Jersey" initiative. You can visit AmericanMedicineChest.com for more information.