Areas in the U.S., such as New England, the Midwest, and the Southwest all have their own tendencies toward substance abuse. Just like food, entertainment, and hobbies. these diverse parts of the country consist of certain trends in terms of drug use and alcohol consumption.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases a yearly survey of Americans over age 12. This survey asks the participant if they have used narcotic painkillers for recreational purposes, or have consumed marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol. States were subsequently ranked based on the population’s use of each of the four substances.
The results were bad news for Colorado and northern New England states.
Colorado was the #1 consumer of the three drugs as well as alcohol. Marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, so it’s of no surprise that the state is among the top consumers.
However, Colorado has the distinction of being top in all categories, including illicit drug use.
Marijuana is also heavily consumed in Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, which have also legalized the drug. Oregon was also a top consumer of recreational opioids.
Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are among the top consumers of cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. Maine and Connecticut also lead in two of those categories. New York residents are heavy cocaine consumers.
Washington D.C., like Colorado, is a bit of an outlier in terms of substance use. It stands out at a high ranking within its area, being closer in consumption of substances to northern New England.
The most religious areas of the U.S. is the Southeast and Bible Belt. Many counties are dry, and folks there have traditionally reported using less substance use in general. However, many of top users of prescription painkillers are in this area, including Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Virginia.
States in the Midwest and Plains are not among the highest consumer of any illicit drugs. However, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota have a high proportion of alcohol users – likely stemming from a pattern established during the Scandinavian and German mass migration.
In the West, Californians, Arizonians. and New Mexico residents do their fair share of cocaine. This is probably due to the proximity to the Mexican border and heavy trafficking of the drug coming from the south. Arizona is also among the top in recreational use of painkillers.
Factors in substance abuse variations may include differences in state legislation, industry regulations, tradition, regional drug markets, religious and cultural mores, and socioeconomic population traits.