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Which States Have the Highest Rate of Drug Abuse?

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You hear about the coronavirus pandemic every day, but did you know there is an epidemic threatening America? Unfortunately, drug abuse is also considered a public health emergency in the United States. 

What is considered drug abuse? It can range from prescription to non-prescription drug misuse, which leads to addictions and overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 70,630 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2019. 

To understand the substance abuse problems and addiction in America, it’s important to look at it state by state. Let’s break down the states that have the highest rate of drug abuse. We’ll analyze how drug abuse is tracked and why certain states rank worse than others. Let’s dive in.

Drug Addiction in America State by State

To analyze drug use in each state, you have to look at a number of factors. For instance, police reports give insights into drug arrests by state, while medical data can reveal how many opioid prescriptions are written in every state.

Other factors considered in the data include:

  • Drug treatment facilities per capita
  • Number of narcotics anonymous and alcohol anonymous groups
  • Number of substance abuse counselors
  • Number of drug dumpsites of laboratories
  • Overdose deaths per capita
  • Prescription drug laws
  • Employee drug testing results
  • and more

Since drug abuse statistics cover so many different factors, it is difficult to say which states are the absolute worst. Every organization that ranks state uses different metrics and puts different weight on each one. However, the following states fare worse than others when it comes to substance abuse.


Missouri ranks high for substance abuse because the state does not have any prescription drug monitoring laws. Without regulations, pharmacies can over-prescribe medications to people who struggle with drug addiction. 

This increases overdoses and drug-related deaths. In addition, Missouri has some of the highest drug arrests per capita in the country.

New Mexico

Unfortunately, New Mexico tops the list for teen drug abuse in the country. The statistics about teen drug use in New Mexico are alarming, including the one that says they have the most teens who use marijuana illegally before age 13. 

With these facts in mind, it makes sense that New Mexico also has a huge problem with drugs being sold on school campuses. 


Like New Mexico, Arkansas has some of the high teen drug abuse in the country. Additionally, according to reports, 12% of children in Arkansas have lived with a drug abuser. 

Arkansas also ranks high for opioid prescriptions with an average of 105 prescriptions per 100 people.


Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana. Unfortunately, they still rank high for illegal drug abuse in the country. 

On average, there are three college campus drug arrests per 1000 students in Colorado. However, access to drug treatment and therapies in the state is limited. Only three percent of people with drug abuse disorders are able to find the help they need. 

West Virginia

West Virginia ties with Colorado for college campus drug arrests. The Mountain State also has a large population of teenagers who use marijuana illegally before age 13 and/or live with someone with a drug abuse problem.

Another factor that gets West Virginia in trouble is the fact that they do not have any laws around employee drug testing. This makes it easier and less risky for people to go to work and abuse prescription and non-prescription drugs. 


Kentucky’s drug problems revolve around opioid prescriptions. In fact, the state gives out 87 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and crystal meth are also heavily abused in Kentucky. Heroin use, on the other hand, is limited throughout the state compared to other parts of the country. 


The Hoosier State has seen a recent increase in opioid prescription and opioid-related deaths. Like Colorado and West Virginia, Indiana also has a lot of college campus drug-related arrests.  

New Hampshire

New Hampshire may be a small state, but they have a big overdose problem. In fact, there are about 37 drug-related overdose deaths per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest ratios in the country.


Like West Virginia, Michigan does not have employee drug testing. They also do not have laws that make drug use during pregnancy a crime. This makes substance abuse much less risky for individuals since they aren’t as worried about getting in trouble with their employer or the law. 

Michigan also has a teenage drug abuse issue. Studies show that 26% of teenagers were offered illegal drugs on school grounds. 

Washington D.C.

Sadly, the nation’s capital has the highest amount of overdose deaths per capita. Washington D.C. also has the fourth largest percentage of teenagers and second-largest percentage of adults who abuse substances.

Apex Recovery Rehab in San Diego, California

Fortunately, California doesn’t usually make the lists of worst states for drug abuse in the United States. However, there are still many Golden State residents who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. 

Apex Recovery Rehab is among the top drug and alcohol treatment centers in San Diego. We offer the following treatment programs:

  • Detox programs
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Substance addiction treatment
  • Therapy programs
  • Mental health services
  • Treatment for veterans
  • and other specialized addiction programs

We have four different rehab centers in San Diego, and we integrate holistic treatments to help our residents tap into their bodies’ innate healing abilities. 

We also specialize in trauma recovery and co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. Our resident’s success is our mission and passion.

Drugs in America

Drug abuse in America is a tragic public health epidemic that ravages all 50 states. Even though each state struggles in different ways, the need for high-quality and effective drug and alcohol treatment is consistent. 

At Apex Recovery, our San Diego rehab centers offer an array of specialized treatments and boutique-style treatments. Whether it’s you or a loved one that needs help, we are here. Take a virtual tour online and request more information here today. 

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689