Opioid Epidemic Results
The drug trends in the United States continue to fluctuate. There are many reasons that the trends change over time, but some of the reasons include
- Government policy changes
- Cost of different drugs
- Availability of drugs
It is anticipated that the current common distribution of drugs in the US will continue to change as time progresses.
History of the Common Distribution of Drugs in the US
In the past decades, trends in drug distribution have changed a lot in the US.
Beginning in the 1950s, tranquilizers and alcohol were the drugs of choice. In the 1960s, the trend changed to marijuana, speed, and hallucinogens such as LSD. Marijuana continued to be a popular drug in the 1970s, while the 1980s showed an increase in the usage of cocaine. By the 1990s, powder cocaine continued to be a drug that was used by the wealthy individuals. However, the biggest change was that crack cocaine swept through the urban cores of many cities and was considered the drug of choice for the poor.
Additionally, in the 1990s, there was a reduction in the use of drugs overall. However, that didn’t mean that drug use was uncommon. During those years, the drug trends changed to heroin, methamphetamine, and club drugs such as Ecstasy. Once the 2000’s started, the drug trends once again changed. With the turn of the century, prescription drug abuse went on the upswing. However, by the year 2010, the availability of prescription opiates declined, so the street alternative, heroin, began to grow in popularity.
In the early 2000s, heroin use steadily increased as the availability of prescription opiates declined.
Since this time, the West Coast and the Midwest have seen an upturn in the use of methamphetamine. Furthermore, with the increase in the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, its use continues to grow in popularity. This trend began to take effect in the year 2007. Another trend also began in the 2000s with the increased use of stimulants. More children were prescribed the drugs Ritalin and Adderall due to ADHD, and teens began to share or sell their drugs to classmates. As a result, these drugs have seen recent growth in abuse and addiction.
Heroin in the Midwest and Northeast
As of the last decade, heroin is the drug that is sweeping the Midwest and the Northeast. This increase is directly related to the drug companies admitting that prescription opioids were addictive. Once this information became available, doctors reduced their prescription of opioids. However, many people had become addicted and dependent on opioids, so they switched to heroin, which is a street opioid.
Another reason that heroin increased in popularity was due to the restrictions that were placed on the purchase of the ingredients needed to manufacture methamphetamine. Furthermore, heroin was available in large amounts and was cheap to purchase. Together, these factors have resulted in a much larger heroin epidemic than anyone expected. Small Midwest towns and Northeastern states like Ohio and Vermont are seeing millions of dollars’ worth of heroin arrive in their areas weekly.
Opioid Prescriptions in the Southeast
While there has been a decrease in the overall prescription of opioid pain relievers in the US, the Southeast states still have a high rate of these prescriptions. As a result, the dependence on opioid pain relievers has continued to be a large problem in this region of the US.
Alabama is the state with the highest number of opioids prescribed by physicians. Furthermore, states like Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Indiana are still struggling with the prescription opioid epidemic.
West Coast and Southwest Drug Usage
Alcohol, heroin, and prescription pain relievers all top the most used drugs in the state of California. There are several reasons that drugs are popular in California. One of the reasons is that California is in close quarters to Mexico. Like Texas, California shares a border with Mexico which makes it a prime region for drug smuggling, dealers, purchasing, and distribution of drugs. Additionally, there are many large airports, interstate exchanges, and extensive transportation facilities in these areas that increase the prevalence of drugs.
As explained above, drug trends continue to fluctuate throughout the years and within different regions of the US. It is expected that changes will continue. When a specific drug becomes an overwhelming problem, legislation is enacted to make the drug more difficult to obtain. When this occurs, other drugs tend to grow in popularity. Furthermore, only time will tell how the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in many regions will change the overall drug distribution in the US.