Among persons aged 12 or older, the rate of current illicit drug use in 2013 was 8.3 percent in the Southeast region. The rate of binge drinking in this area was 21.3 percent, the lowest in the US.
The 12-state Southeast region (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) is comprised of four distinct areas: the Gulf Coast, Appalachia, South Atlantic and Florida.
In general, the highest rates of death, opioid sales and nonmedical prescription drug use in the U.S. are clustered in the Southeast, especially the Appalachian region, and the Northwest. Overdose rates also vary by urban/rural county type with more rural counties having higher overdose death rates for prescription opioids compared to urban areas.
West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a report released in June 2015, further spotlighting Appalachia’s festering drug abuse problem that is also fueling a rise in hepatitis C in one of the nation’s poorest regions.
The use of prescription drugs is highest in small cities in the Southeast. In some communities with less than 28,000 residents, the share of the population using opiate drugs ranged between 12 and 18 percent compared to the national average of less than 4 percent. More than 80 percent of the cities and towns with the highest rates of opioid drug use are in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama.
If you or a loved one are suffering from the problem of substance abuse addiction in the Southeast area, whether your drug of choice is heroin, cannabis, cocaine, prescription painkillers or alcohol, now is the time for you to think about admission to a drug treatment program. The compassionate addiction specialists at recoveryas.com can help you find the treatment program that will lead you or your lovedone back to a life of sobriety. Take the first step toward a fulfilling life by calling us toll free today at 1 (877) 968-6283.
Gulf Coast region (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee)
Cocaine and its derivative, crack cocaine, remain the greatest drug threat in the Gulf Coast area. Cocaine is highly available and highly abused across the region. Methamphetamine’s increased presence and abuse is of rising concern. In some areas, pharmaceuticals are the cause for more drug-related deaths than cocaine, heroin or other illicit drugs combined. These deaths are attributed to individuals consuming multiple pharmaceuticals or combining them with other illicit drugs and/or alcohol.
Law enforcement is concerned that pharmaceuticals may be replacing marijuana as the first drug of choice among young adults. Area youth are now experimenting with pharmaceuticals prior to abusing other illicit drugs because they can be obtained more easily.
As the price of opiate pharmaceuticals rises, the demand for heroin continues to increase. Heroin trafficking and abuse in the Gulf Coast area remain low to moderate. However, it is a significant threat in the Greater New Orleans area where a recent surge in heroin overdoses and availability was also reported in 2013.
Although Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas have reported an increased availability of heroin, its threat is considered to be moderate to low. Atlanta continues to be a source city, particularly for parts of Alabama. A continued increase in availability in the Birmingham area of Alabama has resulted in a large number of heroin related overdose deaths in the region and has caused heroin to be ranked as the number one threat.
The abuse of cannabinoids and cathinones, chemically-infused herbal mixtures aimed at mimicking the effects of marijuana and LSD, remain a threat in the Gulf Coast region. These drugs are commonly dubbed “synthetic marijuana” or “bath salts” by users. These products are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among high school students. Sold as herbal incense, products such as K2, Spice, Genie and Mojo are readily available in head shops and convenience stores throughout the region. Forty-three percent of treatment facilities surveyed report an increase in synthetic drug abuse over the past 12 months.
Although marijuana is not considered a primary threat in the South Atlantic states, its availability and abuse is substantial.
Appalachia (Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia)
The diversion, trafficking and abuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) pose the primary drug threat to the Appalachia region, overshadowing the threat posed by any other illicit drug. Methamphetamine is widely available throughout the area, fueled by increasing production in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Appalachia region is a significant cannabis cultivation and marijuana production area. Cocaine availability is stable at levels sufficient to meet market demand and heroin is available and abused at low levels throughout most of Appalachia.
The wide availability of prescription opioid pain relievers throughout the region has led to high levels of abuse and associated adverse consequences. The number of admissions to publicly funded facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia for other opiates has trended upward over the past few years. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses jumped 360 percent in the last decade in Appalachia.
West Virginia could be described as the epicenter of the prescription drug abuse trend. This state currently leads the entire country in drug overdose deaths with 34 deaths per 100,000 people due to prescription drug abuse. Nine out of every 10 of those deaths are from prescription drugs. Their drug overdose death rate has increased by 605 percent since 1999.
Huntington, West Virginia saw more than 200 overdoses in the first quarter of 2015. The city is on pace to have more than 700 drug overdoses and 90 drug-related deaths by year’s end. The trend will give Cabell County six times the national average overdose rate. Comparatively, there were over 43,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2013, at a rate of 13.89 per 100,000. Huntington’s could be six times that at 90 per 100,000. The drugs of choice tend to be Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Xanax and Ritalin.
West Virginia has also seen a marked increase in heroin abuse and overdose. Heroin has claimed the lives of more than 600 West Virginians between 2001 and 2015. As of April 2015, 157 heroin overdose deaths have been reported for 2013 and 151 have been coded as such for 2014.
South Atlantic (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia)
The number of drug overdose deaths has skyrocketed in Virginia, claiming more than 3,000 lives in just the last five years. Heroin has become the new drug of choice, especially for prescription drug abusers seeking a bigger high. Heroin is cheap, extremely potent and being sold in high quantities across the Commonwealth from inner cities to affluent neighborhoods. Heroin overdose deaths in Virginia have more than doubled from 100 in 2011 to 213 in 2013 with every region of the state experiencing an increase in heroin fatalities.
The 2015 drug trends in North Carolina show that one drug continues to dominate the illegal market there, and that use of it has risen. Cocaine is the most heavily abused drug next to alcohol in North Carolina, but not just cocaine—crack cocaine. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the powdered cocaine that comes into the state is turned into crack cocaine before being dispatched for sale on the street. Thirty-two percent of all drug related deaths were cocaine related. The cocaine epidemic has not abated since it was first publically declared a statewide issue back in the late 90s.
Crack cocaine is the most prominent illegal drug, followed by heroin and marijuana. Alcohol, which is legal in most counties, remains the most abused drug of all. While instances of persons reporting daily marijuana use is matching national trends, the per capita use of crack cocaine exceeds the national trends by 8 percent.
In South Carolina, the two major trends in 2015 are cocaine and heroin. Cocaine is becoming more of a problem than ever before in South Carolina, and many of its users are adolescents under the age of 25. There are indications that powdered cocaine is becoming progressively accessible all through South Carolina. The cost of cocaine is much less in South Carolina than other states, and it’s estimated that the easy access is one of the reasons that it has become so popular in recent years.
Heroin, another hard drug, is also a problem in this area of the United States. South Carolina’s adolescents are more inclined to abuse heroin than are adolescents across the nation, but it is used less than any other illegal drug that is currently in the state.
Georgia is faced with the mounting public threat associated with three specific drugs: heroin, synthetic marijuana and methamphetamine. During the 1990s and 2000s, heroin was rarely encountered in Georgia fatalities, but in 2010, Georgia had three heroin-related deaths. By 2013, that number had risen to 32 deaths, and in 2014, Georgia had 59 heroin-related deaths.
Atlanta is a strategic hub for methamphetamine and other drug trafficking by Mexican drug cartels. The widespread use of meth has had a devastating impact on Georgia’s economy and communities. Many Georgia counties report that 50-60 percent of children in foster care in those counties are in the foster care system as the result of meth addiction by one or both parents. Some Georgia hospitals report that at least 50 percent of emergency room visits are the result of meth-related accidents and/or spousal or child abuse.
On April 16, 2015, Georgia became the twenty-fourth state to enact a medical marijuana law that immediately legalized the use of a low-potency form of cannabis oil for medicinal uses.
Due to various factors, the number of deaths from prescription pain relievers in Florida has fallen from a high of 2,710 overdose deaths in 2010 to 1,916 deaths in 2013, the lowest number since 2003. In addition, from 2012 to 2013, there was an 8.3 percent decrease in the number of deaths caused by one or more controlled substance prescriptions in Florida.
New trends also show a shift in prescribing rates for opioids throughout the state, with providers in North Florida and the Panhandle writing prescriptions for these drugs at twice the rate of providers in South Florida. More than seven Floridians die on average each day from prescription drug-related overdoses. Doctors and nurses are reporting increases in the number of infants suffering from Neonatal Withdrawal Syndrome due to their mother’s abuse of opioid painkillers. Among young people, diverted prescription drugs are now second only to marijuana as the most abused illegal drug.
In the state of Florida, the use of heroin and heroin addiction has seen a sharp increase over the last few years. For example, Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, saw an 87 percent increase in heroin-related admissions to drug treatment facilities in comparison to 2011. Statewide, the number of heroin charges and arrests increased in the first three months of 2013 by almost 23 percent. The increase in heroin abuse and addiction has been due to the crackdown by law enforcement on prescription painkillers, causing many who were addicted to opioids to turn to heroin.
Heroin deaths began to increase sharply across Florida from 2012 to 2014, rising 403-percent from 62 in 2011 to a projected 312 in 2014 based on reported cases from the first half of that year. In Broward County, heroin deaths increased 633 percent from 3 in 2011 to 22 projected for 2014 based on the first half the year. While heroin consequences are fewer in Florida than in other states and areas of the country, the sharp escalation in its use, treatment admission and deaths in Florida along with stable and high levels of prescription opioid indicators constitute an opiate epidemic.
In 2010 there were 6,608 opioids detected in deceased persons in Florida. That toll steadily declined 23 percent to 5,085 by 2013 and then stabilized to a projected 5,106 opioid occurrences in 2014 based on the first half of that year. Seventy percent of the 2014 deaths are related to morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl in the first six months of 2014 across Florida. Drug occurrences include reports where the drug was detected in a decedent and considered to be “present” at the time of death plus those cases when the drug was determined to be a “cause of death.”
Flakka invades Florida
For decades, South Florida has battled drug traffickers who ship boatloads of cocaine from South America. Now the region is dealing with a new epidemic—cheap, synthetic drugs, known as “flakka” or “gravel” that arrive from China through the mail.
In 2014, the first year flakka appeared in the state, authorities in Broward County recorded 190 incidents involving flakka. By early May 2015, the number of incidents involving the drug had already surpassed 275. Synthetic drug seizures, almost all of which involve flakka, accounted for 34 percent of Broward’s crime lab reports in the first three months of 2015, overtaking cocaine, which dropped to 30 percent.
Flakka, which was placed on the U.S. list of illegal controlled substances in 2014, is chemically designed to mimic cathinone, a natural stimulant found in the leaves of the khat plant. And the drug is now spreading, with cases reported in Texas, Alabama and Mississippi and even as far north as Ohio and New Jersey.
Florida has also seen a rise in the use of Budder, which like flakka, is often used in e-cigarettes. Also called “butane hash oil” or “marijuana wax,” Budder is a gooey substance made in local grow houses via highly unstable process that requires soaking the leaves and stems of marijuana plants in a chemical solvent like butane to extract the most concentrated high-inducing ingredients.
Marijuana remains the number one primary substance for addiction treatment in Broward County in 2014 and ranks second after alcohol in Miami-Dade and third in Palm Beach County behind alcohol and prescription opioids.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse addiction in the Southeast region, whether your drug of choice is heroin, cannabis, cocaine, prescription painkillers or alcohol, now is the time for you to think about admission to a drug treatment program. The compassionate addiction specialists at recoveryas.com will help you find the treatment program that will lead you or your loved one back to a life of sobriety. Take the first step toward a fulfilling life by calling us toll free today at 1 (877) 968-6283.
If your insurance coverage is with one of the following companies, recoveryas.com will assist you in finding the help you need. We can work with any PPO coverage and also offer affordable self-pay and financing options for addiction treatment.
Recoveryas.com will never charge you a fee for our placement services, so call 1 (877) 968-6283 now to speak with one of our caring addiction specialists about treatment options in the Southeast region.
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