drug use by state

The good folks at WalletHub have put together a state-by-state study of drug use. It's called, fittingly, Drug Use by State. And the results may floor you.


WalletHub's Drug Use by State study coincides with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Prevention Week. And like NPW, it's intended to raise awareness of our country's addiction problem. Unlike SAMHSA's annual effort, however, the results identify problem areas. Then again, with more and more Americans using and abusing -- and even dying from -- opioids, cocaine and meth, problem areas desperately need to be identified.

WalletHub's study compares the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of 22 key metrics, ranging from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescriptions and employee drug testing laws.

Here are a few of the highlights:

States with the Biggest Drug Problems

  • 1. District of Columbia
  • 2. Michigan
  • 3. Missouri
  • 4. West Virginia
  • 5. Indiana
  • 6. Arkansas
  • 7. New Hampshire
  • 8. Kentucky
  • 9. Colorado
  • 10 New Mexico
  • Some Key Takeaways:

    Alabama leads the nation in per capita retail opioid pain reliever prescriptions. (107 per 100 residents) And while there are only 29 prescriptions written for every 100 District of Columbia residents, that hasn't stopped DC from ranking #1 in drug use and addiction.

    West Virginia has 57.80 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. That's 7.1 times more than in Nebraska, which has the fewest at 8.10 per 100,000 residents.

    Rhode Island has the highest share of teens who used illicit drugs in the past month. (11.81 percent) That's 1.9 times higher than in Utah, which has the lowest. (6.10 percent)

    Oregon has the highest share of adults who used illicit drugs in the past month. (21.74 percent) That is 2.8 times higher than in North Dakota, which has the lowest. (7.81 percent)


    DC's #1 ranking may surprise some. And Colorado's #9 ranking may surprise others. But the biggest surprise might be Maine and Massachusetts not cracking the Top 10. Both state have had extensive -- and extensively chronicled -- drug problems. And both states have made incredible inroads in addressing those problems. In fact, Massachusetts ranks 47th in fewest opioid prescriptions.)

    The rest of the top 10 highest rankings are just about what everyone would expect. The Midwest is significantly beset. (Michigan, Missouri and Indiana comes in at numbers 2, 3 and 5.) So is the South. (West Virginia #4; Arkansas #6; Kentucky #8.) New Mexico's #10 placement is likely largely a result of the state's proximity to the Mexican drug trade.

    How does your state rate? Is it high in teenage or adult drug use? Low in per capita drug arrests? High in opioid prescriptions? Low in treatment-needing adults? WalletHub's Drug Use by State study will fill you in on all that -- and then some.


    Recovery Boot Camp applauds WalletHub for its extensive study of Drug Use By State. The more we as a people can track drug use and addiction, the better our understanding of the problem will be. And the more we'll be able to get help to those most in need.

    We're especially heartened to see Florida has dropped to 36th on the rankings. Granted, our state's good showing is partly attributed to its large population (witness Texas at #37 and California at #41). Yet surely our emphasis on effective addiction treatment has contributed largely to our increasingly good standing.

    Recovery Boot Camp is proud to be one of Florida's most effective addiction treatment providers. We're proud to successfully treat Floridians. We're also proud to successfully help those who come to Florida for treatment. And while some aspects of WalletHub's Drug Use by State study are indeed alarming, the numbers are going down across the country. And they'll continue to go down so long as good folks like WalletHub keep studying the problem, and places like RBC exist to help those in need.

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