Drug Free? Think Again – America’s Favorite Drugs by State [Infographic]

There are a lot of ways to examine and quantify America’s illicit drug use. Geography is one such method, but even then there are a number of ways to look at the same data.

Each of the nation’s 50 states have a “drug of choice” – that is, the narcotic most frequently cited by law enforcement officials as the greatest threat to the health and safety of the public. Narrowing our search even further, we can identify which counties in each state represent the most active drug trafficking areas.

For example: New Bedford, MA is notorious for having a very active heroin port. The abundance of heroin in the area recently resulted in 15 opiate-related drug overdoses in the span of 24 hours. Similarly, California is associated with meth labs and Florida is known for their cocaine dealers.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn about the different states’ “drugs of choice,” the most popular drug trafficking routes, and America’s illegal drugs hotspots.


Sources: nhac.org, nlaaa.nih.gov, census.gov, whitehouse.gov

Different Parts of the Country, Different Drug Habits

Based on the infographic below, we can see there’s a stark contrast in drug choice based on where you live. On the east side of the country, people are more likely to use cocaine. Big cities such as Atlanta and Miami serve as hubs for importing and selling the drug, which can be very profitable.

In the West and Midwest, however, it is a different story. Crystal meth is more popular in these states, largely because it is easy to produce. The same common chemicals used by farmers in these more rural areas can also be used to cook up a batch of meth. It is also harder to enforce anti-drug laws in these locations because of the limited availability of local police. They have wide areas to patrol, making it difficult to go after meth cookers.

Interestingly, heroin is the drug of choice for only three states, including Alaska. But it’s possible that could change down the road. Heroin use is on the rise, and New York City is one of the biggest hubs in the United States.

The Most Drug Arrests by State

As you might expect, states that are on the border of the country, where drugs are most likely to be imported, generally lead in the highest number of drug arrests. This includes places such as California and Florida with large populations and drug problems.

But would it surprise you to know that the very highest rates of drug arrests are in two small states: New Jersey and Maryland? These two states are on the ocean, making them ideal locations for drug importation.

Drug Trafficking: Just Follow the Highway

There are pockets of the country where there is very little drug trafficking, such as in the heart of the Midwest, northern Pennsylvania, eastern Georgia, and Alaska. But for the most part, the highest drug trafficking areas are the ones near the major highways, which allow for easy distribution of the drugs. Along I-95 on the East Coast and I-5 on the West Coast, there are big pockets of drug trafficking.

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Posted on May 15th, 2014 in Infographics

Editorial Staff

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