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Use and Abuse: These Cities Have the Highest Percentage of Substance Use in the Country


These days, it’s no secret that drug use is wreaking havoc on cities across the country.

In 2017 alone, there were over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. And drug overdose deaths have become so prevalent, that they’ve even caused the country’s average life expectancy to drop.

But when it comes to the prevalence of drug abuse, are some cities really that much worse than others? After all, drugs are everywhere, right? Is it really worth trying to avoid them?

Well, according to a recent survey, yes. Some cities are significantly worse than others when it comes to drug abuse. So if you’re planning on moving anytime soon, be sure to steer clear of these four spots.


  1. Phoenix, Arizona


Though Phoenix is known for its sunshine and record-breaking high temperatures, there is a darker side to Phoenix, too: its drug scene. Believe it or not, Phoenix is actually the top city in the country for both cocaine use, with over 20% of its population having used this illegal substance before. Additionally, Phoenix has a pretty serious methamphetamine problem, as about 15% of Phoenicians have used meth before.

With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that Arizona has seen a noticeable surge in fatal drug overdoses in recent years. Though substance abuse is still a very serious problem across the state, legislators have finally begun to take action, as we saw with the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act last year.

  1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

In terms of sweeping substance abuse problems, it doesn’t get much worse than Oklahoma City, which is among the top five cities nationwide for methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin use. Though only 3 percent of Oklahoma City residents have used heroin before, over 20 percent have used cocaine, and nearly 14 percent have used methamphetamines.

And with over 700 fatal drug overdoses across the state each year, it’s clear that Oklahoma as a whole — not just Oklahoma City — has a long way to go when it comes to tackling its substance abuse problem.

  1. Omaha, Nebraska

In addition to Phoenix and Oklahoma City, Omaha also has a very serious drug problem, particularly in terms of methamphetamine and cocaine. In fact, 22% of locals have used cocaine before and 14% have used meth. Furthermore, according to law enforcement officials, Omaha is pretty much a regional hub for methamphetamines, with the drug constantly being transported out of Omaha and across the Midwest.

Omaha is also the top city in the U.S. when it comes to marijuana use, with nearly 70% of locals having smoked marijuana before.

  1. Indianapolis, IN

In terms of cocaine and methamphetamine use, Indianapolis isn’t all that bad, but if you look at the prevalence of heroin use in Indiana’s capital city, you’ll see where the substance abuse problem lies. Indianapolis is tied with Omaha as the top U.S. city for heroin use.

In addition to the heroin problem, Indianapolis also has a very serious and concentrated opioid epidemic. This epidemic has claimed the most lives in just 5 percent of the city. Sadly, the high rate of opioid-related deaths in this area is largely due to the fact that those who live in this 5 percent of the city, lack the necessary means for treatment.


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