Drug Usage by Regional Location: What to Watch For

map of the us to show drug usage by regional locationHave you ever wondered how drug usage varies in different regions of the United States? It’s something that’s important to consider, especially if you’re recently sober and are going to be moving or traveling soon. Drug culture varies widely by state, so here’s a breakdown of some of the highest rates of drug use in different parts of the country.



Overall Illicit Drug Use

According to a 2011 survey by SAMHSA, the West coast has the overall highest rate of illicit drug use for people 12 and older, coming in at 10.5% of the population. The Northeast follows with 9.2%, then the Midwest with 8.5% and the South with 7.5%.

Marijuana Use

Our most northern state also has the highest rate of marijuana users: according to a 2009 SAMHSA survey, 16.29% of Alaskans are regular marijuana users. It’s worth noting that new survey results for 2013 have yet to be released, however, and Colorado and Washington may have surpassed Alaska now that recreational marijuana use is legal in both those states.

Prescription Drug Use

Although California and New York may be stereotyped as states full of people living fast-paced and neurotic lives, they actually have some of the lowest rates of prescription drug use in the country. The states with the highest rates of prescription drug use are Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, with an average of over 11 prescriptions per customer per year. (Scientific American) Such a high number of prescriptions also puts these customers at greater risk of prescription drug abuse.

Cocaine Use

Our country’s smallest state – Rhode Island – also has the highest percentage of cocaine users, coming in at 3.87%. Colorado and Alaska follow with 3.23% and 3%, respectively.

Methamphetamine Use

Although the TV show Breaking Bad may have led viewers to believe that New Mexico has one of the highest rates of meth use in the country, it’s actually Nevada that leads with 2% of the population 12 and over having used methamphetamine. Montana and Wyoming have the next highest rates with 1.5% each. For young adults (ages 18-25), the rates of meth use are highest in Wyoming and Arkansas, with 4.6% and 4.4% respectively. (SAMHSA)

Although research on specific drug use by state and city has been somewhat limited, the government will hopefully continue investigating geographic trends in the coming years, as there do seem to be some major regional differences.Wherever you live, be aware of the prevalent drugs in your area to watch for usage signs, community danger and risks that someone you know might be using drugs so they can get the help they need.

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