There is a common misconception that drug addiction is specific to certain demographics or certain areas. The truth is that drug addiction can develop anywhere. In the United States, certain cities have become hubs for drug addiction, but they aren’t necessarily the cities you might expect.
The city of Dayton is located in Southeast Ohio, and it is best known as Gem City. However, there is nothing sparkling about Dayton’s opioid epidemic. The reason that Dayton tops this list is because it has a serious drug overdose problem.
Dayton sees close to 300 overdose fatalities each and every year. Based on population, this makes the city the worst in the country for fatal drug overdoses. While drug addictions of many types can be found in the city, opioid drugs are among the most common.
One of the reasons that heroin and prescription opiates are so commonly found and used in Dayton may be its location. The Ohio city sits at the intersection of two major highways: Interstates 70 and 75.
Missoula is a city with stunning scenery, lots of outdoor recreation opportunities and a staggering meth problem. In Missoula, the most notable statistic is that nearly 14 percent of households in the city admit to using illegal drugs in the last month.
Fourteen percent is well above the national average. This begs the question of why, exactly, Missoula has such a large number of residents that abuse drugs.
Like in any city, residents have access to a variety of drugs. Both illegal and prescription medications may be used and abused. In Missoula, however, a growing problem is methamphetamine. Not only is highly addictive, it is also made in batches. This means it can vary in potency and contain horrendous ingredients like drain cleaner or battery acid.
In Baltimore, heroin is perhaps the biggest problem facing the city. As many as one-tenth of the city’s total population uses heroin. This puts numbers around 600,000 users in the city alone. Since heroin is such an addictive substance, many users will quickly become addicted to the drug, even after recreational use.
Recently, Baltimore has earned the unwanted title of America’s heroin capital. With so many residents using the drug, it is easy to see why. However, what is less clear is why heroin has taken such a hold on the city. Heroin has been a growing problem in the city of Baltimore since at least the 1950s, making it a part of the urban culture that is hard to break.
The nation’s capital is just 40 miles from Baltimore, Maryland. While both are cities with serious drug addiction problems, the drugs of choice are very different. In Washington, DC, crack and cocaine are the biggest offenders.
In 2008, one in three adults arrested within the city tested positive for cocaine. This shows a clear link between drug addiction and criminal activity. The 2nd Ward in Washington is the hub for crack and cocaine use in the city, although drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It is possible in high-rent areas inhabited by government lobbyists as well as low-income housing in the 2nd Ward.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a city known for culture, cuisine and nightlife. Unfortunately, it is also known as a Louisiana destination with a severe drug addiction problem. Crack cocaine is the most prevalent drug abused in the Big Easy.
While drug problems have existed in New Orleans for some time, they were exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina. Devastation and poverty led an influx of drug dealers to the area. Drug addiction jumped significantly in 2005 and has remained high ever since.
Crime often accompanies drug addiction, and that is no different in New Orleans. Gun crime and murder rates are high in New Orleans. Part of that can be attributed to ongoing drug dealer disputes in the city, as well as addicted individuals committing crimes to get money for their habit.
Española, New Mexico
When asked to think about the cities with the biggest drug addiction problems, the town of Española is not likely to come to mind. However, heroin addiction is rampant in Española, New Mexico.
Part of the problem is that much of the heroin available in Española is close to pure, making it stronger than the heroin in other areas. More potent heroin means that it is harder not to become addicted. In addition, it is easier to fall victim to an overdose. The relatively close proximity of Española to the Mexican border may be one reason for the heroin epidemic in that town.
In addition to lobster and great scenery, the city of Portland, Maine, is also home to a growing number of opioid overdoses. In 2016, there was an average of one new overdose from heroin every day in Portland. In the state of Maine as a whole, nearly 300 opioid users died as a result of an overdose in the past year alone.
In addition to heroin, Portland is the center of the hillbilly heroin epidemic. The so-called hillbilly heroin is actually OxyContin, an opioid prescription painkiller. In addition, the city is seeing a boost in fentanyl users. This drug is similar to heroin, but it is considered to be even stronger and more dangerous.
Kermit, West Virginia
West Virginia, as a whole, is a state rife with drug addiction. Opioid prescription abuse, in particular, is a growing concern. While several West Virginia cities struggle with overdoses and addiction, the small town of Kermit is particularly worrying.
Kermit has a population of just 400. This small size doesn’t mean that it is exempt from drug addiction, however. At one pharmacy in Kermit, more than nine million pain pills were distributed to patients over a two-year period.
That staggering number means that there were more than 22,500 opioid pills per person over those 24 months. Clearly, this is well above and beyond normal use and rural distribution for medical purposes.
Drug addiction can strike anywhere. Residents of big cities and small towns alike can be susceptible to the overwhelming drug epidemic. More awareness, more resources and more addiction treatment is a solution worth supporting.