Illicit drug use comes in various shapes that impact the lives of hundreds of thousands every year. Heroin and other opiates, such as prescription pain killers and fentanyl, combined to kill 33,091 people in 2015, but they are not the fastest growing illicit drug used in each of the 50 states. In a November 2016 report, the Drug Enforcement Administration pinpointed prescription drugs, heroin, and fentanyl as the most significant drug-related threats in the United States.

While alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly abused drugs across the nation as a whole, opioids, heroin, fentanyl, crystal meth, and cocaine abuse is growing. What drug is your state struggling with most?

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Illicit Drug Use in United States

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Prescription Opioid abuse a common problem

Prescription opiate abuse has become more common due to an interesting reason. Doctors have been instructed to limit opioid prescriptions, causing many patients to go cold turkey. These patients, having developed an addiction to the prescription opioids, then turned to other methods to continue using the opioids.

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Illicit Drug Use - Prescription Drugs

Prescription opiate abuse is the fastest growing drug related issue in these states:

OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Demerol are commonly abused prescription opioids. Every day, more than 1000 people are treated in emergency departments for not using prescription opioids as directed.

The most recent data from the CDC showed West Virginia had the highest rates of death due to drug overdose with 41.5% of all deaths. In some areas of West Virginia, an estimated 1 in 4 residents are dealing with opiate addiction. Alabama ranks #1 in the nation with the most opioid prescriptions in the state.

Heroin issues are widespread

Heroin abuse is growing fast, due in large part to prescription opiate addiction. Among new heroin users, approximately 3 out of 4 admitted to abusing prescription opioids first. Often, when an addict can no longer find or afford prescription opioids, they’ll turn to the much more affordable and accessible opiate-based drug: heroin.

Heroin related deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010, and heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6% from 2014 to 2015, claiming the lives of almost 13,000 people.

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Illicit Drug Use - Heroin

States with the fastest growing heroin use are:

In Illinois, much of the problem stems from drug cartels’ easy access to Chicago. New Jersey also has significant heroin issues. Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have died from heroin in New Jersey and an investigation revealed that there were at least 128,000 people actively using heroin.

Fentanyl grows in Midwest and Northeast

Many heroin users and dealers are switching to a different product: Fentanyl. Fentanyl is easy to transport, hard to detect, and an estimated 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. While the video above focuses on Canada’s Fentanyl problem, it does provide valuable insight on overall abuse of the drug.

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Illicit Drug Use - Fentanyl

The following states had 500 or more reported law enforcement fentanyl encounters in 2015:

Ohio has the most heroin related deaths of any state, with 1,444 in 2015, but users are quickly switching to Fentanyl for a more powerful high.

Fentanyl is the top cause of drug deaths in New Hampshire and claims the lives of hundreds in New York, but many users don’t even realize they’re taking it. Fentanyl is often mixed in heroin or in pills without the user knowing. This is considered a contributing factor to the death of musician Prince.

Fentanyl is the fastest growing abused drug in the United States; the number of encounters has more than doubled from 5,343 in 2014 to 13,882 in 2015.

Crystal Meth popular in West

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While opioids such as prescription pain killers, heroin, and fentanyl are raising concerns across the nation, crystal meth is still the drug of choice in the following states:

More than 90% of drug offenses in Hawaii and Montana are for crystal meth. Meth is a large issue in North Dakota as well, due to the recent influx of jobs created by the oil boom. Meth is easy to mass manufacture in rural areas, making it easy to find for lonely, secluded employees.

The meth problem in California is largely due to Mexican cartels ramping up mass production and finding easy routes into Southern California. California had the most drug related deaths of any other state in 2015, with 4,659.

Cocaine use rising again

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Illicit Drug Use - Cocaine

Cocaine was a significant problem in the 80s, but deaths from overdose are climbing yet again. These states have seen rising usage of cocaine:

Colorado residents across all demographics have experienced a rise in cocaine use. New Mexico is seeing a spike in cocaine use in their high school students. Globally, cocaine production is highest in Colombia and Peru.

Fighting illicit drug use

These are just some of the rising illicit drug use issues in the United States and this map is in no way an exhaustive list of drug use by region. Prescription opioids, heroin, fentanyl, crystal meth, and cocaine are an issue across the United States. They all need your attention, regardless of location, as any family member could become or may already be addicted.

Drugs don’t discriminate by wealth, gender, or location. They can infect anyone and pull them into a spiral that often has fatal consequences.