It’s official: drug addiction now impacts practically every American in some way. We often say that drug abuse is everyone’s problem; a recent survey from the Pew Research Center has taken this assertion from the abstract and codified into a tragic and alarming reality. Americans from every geographic locale see drug addiction as a serious problem in their community, according to the survey. Continuing increases in illicit and prescription opioid overdose fatalities and the continuing threat of drugs like methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana have brought addiction to more and more Americans’ doorsteps and neighborhoods. Whether they’re battling substance use disorder (SUD) themselves or they’re being forced watch it destroy their families or communities, 87 percent of Americans are getting an unwelcome picture of the damage that drug addiction can cause.
City, Country and Suburbs
The report underscores the indiscriminate nature of modern-day drug addiction. A staggering 90 percent of Americans who live in a rural area say drug addiction is either a major or minor problem in their community, as do 87 percent in urban and 86 percent in suburban areas, according to the survey of 6,251 adults, conducted Feb. 26-March 11. More respondents in urban and rural areas said that addiction was a “major” problem than those in suburban locations (50 percent and 46 percent, respectively, compared with 35 percent).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2016, there were 19,172 fatal overdoses in urban counties in 2016, up 25 percent from the prior year; 36,424 overdose deaths in suburban counties, up 22 percent from the prior year; and 8,036 overdose deaths in rural counties, up nine percent from the prior year.
The primary driver for this uptick is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the opioid addiction epidemic with which we’ve all become painfully familiar.
How Does Drug Addiction Damage Communities?
There are myriad ways in which drug addiction can ravage neighborhoods and destroy quality of life in communities. In addition to immediate health and public safety concerns among vulnerable populations, drug addiction increases crime, decreases property values and places an add financial burden on existing residents. More and more communities have been implementing education and awareness programs to deal with the growing problem; however, many are also bemoaning the lack of institutional treatment resources for affected residents. As it stands, most experts are forecasting that drug addiction will only continue to grow in the coming years.