Drug abuse has a long and storied history in the United States, and we’ve been “at war” with it since 1971 under the Nixon administration. But no matter who is in office, the federal drug budget continues to increase. It’s moved from $23.8 billion in 2013 to almost $27.5 billion in 2017.
The current administration seems to be taking a hardline approach to drug use. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have advocated for strict sentences for drug-related offenses, even as far as the death penalty in some cases.
Given the uncertain future and lack of significant progress to date, it’s fair to wonder where drug abuse is most pronounced and which areas are most at risk in the current political climate. This report attempts to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 20 key metrics, ranging from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescriptions and meth-lab incidents per capita. Continue reading for the complete findings, commentary from a panel of researchers and a full description of the methodology used.
States with the Biggest Drug Problems
1 District of Columbia 11 Massachusetts
2 Missouri 12 Colorado
3 New Hampshire 13 Wyoming
4 Michigan 14 Tennessee
5 West Virginia 15 Oregon
6 New Mexico 16 Delaware
7 Indiana 17 Alaska
8 Rhode Island 18 Maine
9 Kentucky 19 Arkansas
10 Pennsylvania 20 Maryland
Alabama has 121 retail opioid pain reliever prescriptions per 100 residents, leading the nation. On the other end of the spectrum, there are 33 for every 100 District of Columbia residents.
West Virginia has 52.00 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. That is 8.1 times more than Nebraska, which has the fewest 6.40 per 100,000 residents.
Alaska has the highest share of teens who used illicit drugs in the past month, at 13.22 percent. That is 2.2 times higher than in Utah, which has the lowest at 5.96 percent.
Vermont has the highest share of adults who used illicit drugs in the past month, at 18.83 percent, 2.8 times higher than Iowa, which has the lowest at 6.77 percent.
To view the full report and learn about drug abuse in your state, please visit: