Author: Justin Mckibben
Let’s face it, we live in the digital age, and to so many people Google.com is our answer to everything! We google our movies, our music, our food and even pages upon pages of cat photos. We even talked once about how so many people use google to self-diagnose their illnesses that Google is creating an option to connect browsers directly to doctors to provide a slightly more accurate approach.
So tracking Google searches is a good way to find out what people are searching, what’s trending, and what to do when your cat gets a cold at a given time. Well apparently, Google search statistics can also be collected and analyzed using ‘Google Trends’ to show us what drugs people in America are doing and where, or what drugs the most people in one area are ‘curious’ about at least.
National Drug Google Data
According to the combined data that began in 2004, cocaine is actually the most searched for drug across the country over the past decade. Interesting enough, the drug crystal meth is steadily rising across the board, and searches for heroin and prescription drugs have become more common in the last five years. That should come as no surprising given that the country has been experiencing what many have dubbed an ‘opiate epidemic’, and prescription painkillers are currently public enemy number one in regard to overdose accidents in emergency rooms.
Meth has already been prevalent in the Midwest since 2004, but it didn’t get any surge of searches in other parts of the country until 2012. Adderall interest surged in recent years across the nation, but especially on the East Coast of the country.
Typically official crime rates and hospital statistics provide some good insight into drug abuse across the United States, but this accumulative data brought together by Google also reveals the extent of an illicit substances popularity on a state-by-state basis.
Mathamphetamine (Crystal Meth)
- During the 2000’s methamphetamine was reported as one of the most commonly abused drugs in the nation, and at one point meth even managed to surpass cocaine as it swept across Middle America.
- There was a spike in meth searches in 2005 and 2006. At the height of the it was the single most searched for drug in dozens of states.
- In the years 2013 and 2014 particularly interest in meth once again soared. These were the years when searches for meth took over the US, especially the west.
- Searches for the anxiety medication Xanax have also risen throughout the Midwest and south.
- Searches for Xanax first appeared in around 2009, and grew in popularity until around 2012, when they dipped.
- Then again Xanax searches made a comeback in 2013. Xanax-related hospital visits have doubled across the country over the past six years.
- In 2010 the prescription stimulant commonly prescribed for ADHD called Adderall became another popular substance of abuse.
- In between 2011 and 2012 Adderall was the only drug that came close to the number of Google searches for cocaine.
- 2013 and 2014 Adderall dominated the eastern states.
- Heroin was steadily searched for from 2004 until 2011.
- 2006 showed a spike searches for heroin in a few states including Maryland and Utah.
- As addictive prescription painkillers have become more tightly regulated, heroin has become an increasingly popular substitute in Pennsylvania and Oregon.
- After prescription opiate regulation started to step up to combat ‘pill mills’ and ‘doctor shopping’ the searches for heroin across the board began to rise, and reached a peak last year in 2014 as the opiate epidemic rages on.
State by State Basis
All the drugs studied have been rising since the end of 2009, except cocaine which has been on a bit of up and down from 2009-2012, and then up again from 2012 until now. When measuring the most popular searches for specific drugs in select states, researchers also came up with some interesting data. The top searches in some states are as follows:
- Los Angeles, California- Meth and LSD
- Pennsylvania- Heroin
- Massachusetts- Suboxone (a replacement opiate drug commonly used to wean off heroin use, but also commonly abused)
- New Orleans- Adderal
- New York- Cociane
- Seattle- OxyContin and ‘Magic Mushrooms’
- Virginia- Painkiller Oxycodone
- Florida- MDMA
With numbers like these, we can determine that while not every drug is becoming popular everywhere, there are some clear indications that a few have made their mark all over the map.
Granted some people who Google these drugs may be looking for treatment, they may be trying to help a loved one, they may even be writing a term paper or doing some other form of academic research, but for the most part you can assume that these drugs are being searched in these areas for a reason. We can only hope that the number of searches for treatment is rising as part of these statistics.
Like it or not, the world is still searching for the answers to the drug problem. The internet is speculated to be both part of the problem and part of the solution, but any way you look at it there is a need in this nation for some change. Each of us has the ability to take some action, we just need to commit to that first step toward a different future. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135