Special Report

States Using the Most Mind-Altering Drugs

7. Mississippi
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 22.3%
> Median household income: $37,963 (the lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 4.3 (7th highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.6% (6th highest)

Low income can increase the likelihood of drug use. With the lowest median annual household income in the country, Mississippi also has the seventh highest rate of adults using mood-altering drugs almost daily, at 22.3%. Mississippi had the highest poverty rate in the country at 24.0%, and the sixth highest unemployment rate at 8.6%. Mississippi is one of the least educated states in the country with only 82.4% of adults having completed high school, third lowest nationwide. Negative health outcomes are also fairly common in the state. More than 35% of Mississippi residents were obese in 2013, the highest in the country. In addition, the state had the second highest cancer rate, at 223.7 per 100,000 residents, and the highest rate of cardiovascular deaths, at 346 per 100,000. Using drugs daily can increase the likelihood of these poor health outcomes, just as poor physical health can increase the likelihood of frequent drug use. Mississippians had the highest rate of premature death before age 75, with an estimated total of more than 10,300 years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents.

6. South Carolina
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 22.8%
> Median household income: $44,163 (7th lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 3.8 (21st highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.6% (16th highest)

South Carolina residents had the nation’s seventh lowest median annual household income at $44,163. The state’s 18.6% poverty rate was the country’s ninth highest. Economic factors such as these may have contributed to 22.8% of adults acknowledging near daily use of mind-altering drugs. South Carolina’s 31.7% obesity rate was the 10th highest rate in the country and could be a cause or result of the high rate of drug use. South Carolina had the ninth highest rate of premature death — before age 75 — in the country with an estimated total of more than 8,600 years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents. While the state reported a relatively high level of drug use, it reported only six hospital admissions per 100,000 residents aged 12 and older for heroin abuse in 2011, the fifth lowest number of admissions per 100,000 in the country. By contrast, the national rate is 105 per 100,000 residents.

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5. Louisiana
> Pct. of population using mind-altering drugs almost every day: 22.9%
> Median household income: $44,164 (8th lowest)
> Poor mental health days in past 30 days: 4.2 (8th highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.2% (15th lowest)

Like many of the states with high rates of drug use, Louisiana had both a relatively low median annual household income and a high poverty rate. Louisiana’s 2013 median income of $44,164 was about $8,000 below the national median income and eighth lowest of all states. The 19.8% of residents living below the poverty line was four percentage points above the national rate and third highest of all states. Obesity can increase the likelihood of drug use just as it is often a side-effect of many prescription medications. In Louisiana, about 33.1% of residents were obese, sixth highest in the country. Other negative health outcomes were also common. There were 217.4 cancer deaths per 100,000 people in the state, the fourth highest rate in the country, and the death rate from cardiovascular disease was 307.5 per 100,000, also the fourth highest in the country.

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