Special Report

States Using the Most Mind-Altering Drugs

10. Oregon
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 21.9%
> Median household income: $50,251 (23rd lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 4.3 (7th highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.7% (15th highest)

Nearly 22% of Oregon residents said they used mood-affecting drugs or medications nearly every day, the 10th highest share of all states. Frequent drug use may be tied to negative health outcomes. In Oregon, however, there were 210 cardiovascular-related deaths per 100,000 state residents from 2010 through 2012, the fifth lowest rate in the country. This was also the only such rate among the states using the most mind-altering drugs not to exceed the national rate of 251.4 cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people. Similarly, 26.5% of Oregon residents were obese in 2013, the 15th lowest rate and exceptionally low compared to other states with high drug use. In November 2014, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use effective July 1, 2015.

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9. Indiana
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 22.1%
> Median household income: $47,529 (17th lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 4.0 (11th highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.5% (18th highest)

Indiana was the most populous of the 10 states where residents acknowledged using drugs most frequently. Indiana also had the third lowest well-being score in the Gallup-Healthways index, which takes into account drug use. Indiana has been struggling economically. The state’s 7.5% unemployment rate was higher than the national rate, and its poverty rate of 15.9% was also relatively high. In addition to the relatively high level of drug use in Indiana, Hoosiers also have relatively high rates of obesity, nearly 32%, and cancer deaths, 208.2 per 100,000 — each ninth highest in the country — which may lead to or be caused by frequent drug use.

8. Missouri
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 22.2%
> Median household income: $46,931 (14th lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 3.8 (21st highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.5% (18th lowest)

Drug use is a major factor in the well-being of a state’s residents. Missouri had the 10th lowest well-being score in the Gallup-Healthways index. As Witters suggested, frequent drug use and financial well-being are closely related. Missouri residents have relatively low incomes. A typical household earned less than $47,000 in 2013, one of the lower incomes nationwide. As in most states reporting high levels of drug use, more than 22% of Missouri adults reported a smoking habit, versus 18.2% of Americans. Both factors contributed to Missouri having the 10th highest rate of cardiovascular-related deaths. Researchers linked both smoking and drug abuse to the disease.

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