Most Popular Drugs by Region

The United States is an undeniably large country, and there are significant cultural differences between one part of the country and another. Just as food preferences can be different from one place to another, drug preferences can also be seemingly variable, as can the treatment programs available to treat an addiction. Exploring those options might help families in need of care.

For this article, we’ve used the regions developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and all of the information is broken into 10 geographic sections. If you have any questions about your region, please call us and we’ll discuss that with you.


Region 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont


This part of the country is typically described as rural, bucolic and lovely. It’s the part of America that’s often pictured in calendars and on Christmas cards, and it’s rare for people to think about something horrible like addiction taking place here. However, the notorious drug heroin is making a play for the hearts and minds of people who live in this region. The problem has gotten so bad, in fact, that the governor of Massachusetts declared a heroin emergency in 2014, and he hoped to make anti-overdose medications available to more residents as part of that effort, according to Reuters.

People who live in this region might lean on drugs for all sorts of varied reasons, but it’s possible that the recent economic downturn has played a role. Communities have emptied due to lack of jobs and rising rates of foreclosures, and the declining tax base has made law enforcement actions difficult to sustain. When communities are empty and law enforcement is lax, drugs like heroin can quickly enter the scene and take over.


Region 2: New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands


club drugs

This region is largely urban, and its towering skyscrapers and thronged sidewalks make it a popular spot for television and film crews. All kinds of drugs might be in use in the residents of these areas, but evidence suggests that club drugs like Molly are the go-to substance for people in this particular region.

As an article published by The Los Angeles Times suggests, living in a place like New York means settling into a 24-hour lifestyle, where the work is hard and the clubs don’t open until late. Living in the region’s largest metropolis, New York (“the city that never sleeps”), contains many people who are leaning on stimulant drugs, and Molly is a stimulant that provides an extra kick of hallucinogenic power. It’s easy to see how a drug like Molly could be intensely popular in a busy region like this.


Region 3: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia


This is an unusual region, in that it contains a number of different states that have seemingly little in common. The District of Columbia seems like a particular outlier, as it’s included among a number of states that are known for their rural beauty.

It’s these rural states, however, that are most concerning from an addiction perspective as these are the states that have been associated with the abuse of prescription drugs like:

The phrase “hillbilly heroin” emerges from this set of states, and it encompasses the challenges quite nicely. People who live here are often dealing with economic fragility, and they may not have the opportunity or the ability to purchase expensive drugs like heroin. Instead, they focus on using drugs they can obtain through their doctors. In some cases, users even steal from hospitals or root through hospital garbage cans in order to get the drugs they want.

The addiction situation in these states is so dire that it’s been the focus of movies. A documentary about painkiller addiction in West Virginia, for example, suggests that a small town in the state is the center of the OxyContin epidemic.


Region 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee


This region in the southeastern part of the country is vulnerable to addiction simply because so many of these states contain coastlines and major interstate highways. When cities are located close to major bodies of water, smugglers may hope to set up shop, so they can move drugs from their production facilities into the lucrative American market. Florida is forced to deal with this issue on a regular basis, but a report produced by CNN suggests that Georgia is also a target for dealers, as more than $70 million in drug-related cash was sized from Atlanta alone in fiscal year 2008. Heroin is a major player here, but cocaine is another popular drug of abuse.

Cartels often attempt to move drugs away from the home base as quickly as possible, but they might not resist the idea of selling the drugs to people who live nearby. Whenever a cartel is in play, it’s reasonable to suggest that addiction rates rise in the cities in which the cartel operates. That’s just the way the business works, and it keeps this region mired in drugs.

Region 5: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin

This area surrounding the Great Lakes doesn’t share a sea border with a notorious drug-producing country, but it is still a popular home base for cartels hoping to sell cocaine and heroin. Just as these cartels boost rates of addiction in Region 4, they do the same in this part of the country, and heroin and cocaine are major problems here as well.

Region 6: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

Southern states in this region are close to Mexico, and that means these states have somewhat easy access to all sorts of drugs, including marijuana and heroin. But according to the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, many people who live in this region have a love affair with stimulant drugs, including methamphetamine and Ecstasy.

It’s difficult to know exactly why these drugs are popular in this part of the country, but it’s possible that price plays a role. It’s relatively easy to get the ingredients needed in order to make meth, as they can be imported from Mexico, and that makes the price of this particular drug quite low in this part of the country. That low price point and high power could explain why so many people turn to this type of drug for a high.

Region 7: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

Stimulants are also popular drugs in this region, per the El Paso Intelligence Center’s National Seizure System, as the number of meth lab seizures in Kansas increased 43 percent between 2007 and 2009. At the moment, marijuana is far and away the most popular drug of abuse in this part of the country, but these stats about meth seem to suggest that stimulants could quickly overtake marijuana and become the go-to drug of choice for residents.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why these drugs might seem appealing to people who live smack in the middle of the country, but it’s possible that economic pressures play a role. This is a region that is losing manufacturing jobs, and some might turn to drugs in order to alleviate their concerns regarding their mounting bills and inability to pay.

Region 8: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming

Some states in this region are ardent supporters of sobriety, and they provide harsh sentences for people who use and abuse drugs. Even so, people who live here might be willing to lean on opiate drugs to soothe themselves or take stimulants to help them get to work and stay alert. Stimulants like meth are remarkably popular here, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as they are the most commonly cited drugs among people who enroll in treatment programs, but marijuana comes in as a close second.

Region 9: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada

California was one of the first states in the union to legalize marijuana, and not surprisingly, that drug is a big favorite among residents of that state. However, when one state makes a big change regarding drug laws, the states located close to that focal point often deal with blowback addiction rates. People find it easy enough to drive across the border and pick up the drugs they want, and they may be tempted to do so if they know a number of people who use and abuse a particular drug. As a result, marijuana is a major concern in this region, and it’s likely to remain a concern for a long time to come.

Region 10: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington

The states in this region are also dealing with a marijuana problem, as Washington has chosen to amend its laws and that’s made marijuana move from the illegal to the legal. But many of these states are also dealing with a longstanding stimulant problem. Specifically, meth’s influence has had a long presence in this area and it has never really disappeared. Addiction treatment professionals who work in these states are accustomed to working with this specific type of drug.


Getting Help Close to Home


It’s impossible to list each and every treatment program available across the United States. There are simply too many to count, with more being added each and every day. But families should know that there are programs available to help them and that often, these programs are willing to expedite the enrollment process, so people can get the help they need as quickly as possible.

The Substance Abuse Treatment Locator, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, might be a good place to start. Here, people can look for treatment by:

  • State
  • County
  • City
  • Zip code

They can even find facilities by name, if they’re already aware of a few programs they’d like to investigate. And families really should do at least some form of investigation. Treatment facilities can differ from one another by price, focus of care and availability. Some don’t offer the same kind of treatments seen in other programs, and some don’t provide the type of care that might be right for someone in need. By really asking questions and finding out about the options available, families can avoid making a rash decision, and that might lead to better treatment outcomes.

If you’re searching for care, we hope you’ll consider Michael’s House. We’re located in California, but we have patients from all across the country. Some are drawn to our specific mix of therapies for addictions, while others are intrigued by the idea of getting away from their home cities in order to get a new perspective on their addictions. If you’d like to talk about this in detail, please call us, and our admissions coordinators can help answer your questions.

Speak with an Admissions Coordinator 760-548-4032