Big cities like New Orleans and Baltimore and small communities like Espanola, N.M., have been named on Forbes magazine's list of 'Drug Capitals of America.'
Forbes reported Jan. 21 that the list is based on geographic drug-use data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other federal sources.
Espanola, for example, has a high rate of heroin use and a drug-related death rate of 42.4 per 100,000 population, compared to a national average of 7.3 deaths per 100,000. Missoula, Mont., had the nation's highest rate of illicit drug use — 13.8 percent of households reported monthly use of drugs, including high rates of methamphetamine use — according to SAMHSA.
Cocaine and crack remain the biggest illicit-drug problems in Washington, D.C., but in nearby Baltimore heroin use remains stubbornly prevalent.
Nationally, about 8 percent of Americans report using illicit drugs, but the rate is much higher in some communities. “There are different drug-use rates among the population,” said John Carnevale, a public-policy consultant and former Office of National Drug Control Policy staffer. “Some communities do get impacted more — sometimes because of location; it could be local economies; it could be all kind of things. I wish we really knew the answer, and maybe we could have a more effective strategy.”
Experts said that drug prevention would be more effective if regional variations in use were better understood.