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The 7 Drug Capitals of America

America’s drug problem needs to be addressed. It’s obvious that the War on Drugs has failed us and, now the toll drugs are taking on communities is becoming apparent across the country; not just the likely suspects, either. Here are the 7 drug capitals of America. Some of these cities aren’t surprising but, others might throw you for a loop.

#1. Española, New Mexico

With a population of 10,000, this New Mexico city has been consistently ranking among the top places in the U.S. when it comes to drug overdoses – a trend that’s been revealed by federal statistics. Whereas the national average for drug-related deaths hangs at 7.3, Española had 42.5 deaths per 100,000.

#2. Missoula, Montana

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) household survey, Missoula County, where the city of Missoula lies – the county seat of MT, had the highest rate of illicit drug use. Also according to SAMHSA, averages taken in 2004, 2005 and 2006 showed that 13.8% of Missoula households that were polled reported using illicit drugs in the past month.

#3. Washington, D.C.

In 2006, the nation’s capital saw 75 overdoses due to cocaine and by September 2008, one-third of people arrested had cocaine in their system. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that “cocaine and crack are the most significant drug problems in Washington, D.C.” And in a household survey, the city’s 2nd Ward had the honor of having the highest rate of cocaine use in the entire nation.

#4. Baltimore, MD

In Baltimore in 2006, there were 184 heroin-related overdoses. “Baltimore is home to higher numbers of heroin addicts and heroin-related crime than almost any other city in the nation,” says the Drug Enforcement Administration.

#5. New Orleans, LA

Hurricane Katrina’s fall-out involved the influx of new drug dealers vying for territory while there were some who remained after the devastating storm. The result: bloody turf wars and the highest murder rate in the nation. In 2007, New Orleans had 95 murders per 100,000 people – that are known to be directly related to drugs. New Orleans is also known to have one of the highest crack problems.

#6. San Francisco, CA

Of the metropolitan areas surveyed by SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, San Francisco had the highest rate of illicit drug-related emergency room admissions in 2006. There was an estimated 809 illicit drug-related emergency room visits per 100,000 in the San Francisco area. Heroin continues to be the number one abused drug in San Francisco, while in Oakland, both heroin and crack cocaine, says the DEA.

#7. Atlanta, GA

A network of highways and a large Hispanic population have attracted the most notorious cartels, including the Gulf and the Federation, to Atlanta, making it the East Coast distribution hub of the Mexican cartels that are now running the drug trade. As a result, the Atlanta area has had an increase in violent crimes, especially kidnapping.

Honorable Mentions

The DEA reports that:

  • Chicago, New York and Boston have the highest heroin-related hospital admissions
  • Columbus, Ohio, in 2011 reached an all-time high in drug overdose deaths with 1,765 deaths. The Columbus Dispatch reports that one Ohioan died every five hours that year from a drug over-dose. In fact, since 1999, Columbus’ drug overdose deaths have increased 440%.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.


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