We’ve seen an active shift in the use of drugs across the US over the last three decades. States and cities that we once associated with safety and affluence have become centers for violent crime and trafficking.
Knowing the risks where you live can help you stay vigilant and take a stand against the spread of drugs across the country. The cities topping the charts for drug risks in the nation change frequently based on new reports on both criminal and hospital activity, but these five have managed to hold their place among the top “at risk” cities in the country:
1. Dayton, Ohio
Ohio may not seem like it would be at the center of the nation’s drug crisis, but this nice, quiet, unassuming state has reported more overdose deaths than anywhere else in the country. The problem has been compounded by the economic crisis and the location of Dayton in relation to several popular drug trafficking routes.
While meth has reigned supreme in many of the Midwest states, Dayton has been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic. In fact, three major cities in Ohio rank in the top ten for heroin use and overdose deaths according to reports by the CDC. Law enforcement and treatment professionals in the state have partnered to create the Drug-Free Coalition, but many fear that this will be too little too late.
2. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland has a long and sordid history with heroin. Since 2014, the city and state have held the number one spot for those actively addicted to opioids per capita. While Dayton, OH, may hold the record for overdose deaths, Baltimore reports that as many as one in 10 residents needs immediate rehab.
Many people start in their teens and bringing their habits with them into adulthood. While city officials have enacted medication-assisted treatment programs to lower the number of overdose deaths, the current impact on the number of active addiction has yet to be seen
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Drug Enforcement Agency reported more than 4,600 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016. Those numbers have continued to rise despite more progressive treatment programs, and Philadelphia has become an epicenter of heroin trafficking. The city has taken the danger a step further and has identified the presence of fentanyl in nearly half of these overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller that’s stronger than heroin and small amounts can be devastating when confused with the illicit drug. The danger has spread to law enforcement officers in the area who are afraid of accidentally inhaling the potent mix during searches and drug busts.
4. Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, our nation’s capital is also one of the worst cities in the country for drug use and violent crimes associated with trafficking. A report by the Daily Caller claims that Washington D.C. has what equates to the worst drug problem in the entire country. Technically, the district is not considered a state, but it inventoried. On top of the current drug crisis, D.C. also holds the national record for gun violence per capita.
The two factors correlate to create an area where the economy has experienced a huge divide between those living in poverty and the wealthy. Just last year, the US spent almost $30-billion on the fight against the growing problem with drugs.
This didn’t account for the huge financial loss attributed to disabilities and long-term care necessary for those trying to beat addiction. With the problems in D.C. being so close to lawmakers, residents hope that this will force them to take a more involved part in drug legislation.
5. Phoenix, Arizona
While Phoenix, Arizona may not hold records in overdose deaths it’s been called the “gateway for drugs into the US.” Phoenix has a long and sordid history with South American drug cartels, leading to a jump in drug related killings that holds a lead over New York City.
It’s also been named the number two kidnapping capital of the US, resulting in an atmosphere of constant terror for many of its citizens. Phoenix suffers from being advantageously located in an area that’s used to traffic illegal substances in via state parks and wildlife refuges.
Residents living in more remote areas claim that law enforcement officers have lost control over the cartels and that they shy away from calling the authorities when they notice suspicious activity. There aren’t enough Phoenix rehab centers for the people who want help and not enough beds for those who need it.
School systems have also reported that drug sales are increasing in the classrooms, introducing younger children to the narcotics trade each year. The solution for this problem will need to come at a national level.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Stats across America have proven just how far and wide the drug problem has spread, and some lawmakers have asked for a new approach. We’ve been pushing a no tolerance policy for illicit drugs for decades, and we’re failing. This has led to the widespread acceptance of things like marijuana that pose less harm to the public than drugs like heroin and methamphetamine.
We’ve put so many of our resources into fighting the drug epidemic that we’re lacking the tools to treat a problem that’s already here. Some treatment professionals have suggested that we provide intravenous “safe places” where they can shoot up in a controlled environment. But, the other side of this debate argues that taxpayer money can be better spent on productive citizens than legal drug dens.
The truth is, there is no solution to the problem of addiction. It’s a chronic disease that will continue to rear its ugly head until we find a way to regulate it and fight it at the neurological level. All of America is feeling the effects, and we desperately need a better way to pull ourselves out of the negativity that makes the drug culture so dark.