We all know recreational drug use is a widespread phenomenon, but which states have the highest percentage of drug users? Well, thanks to a Gallup poll on state by state use of mood-altering drugs, we can find out. And the results might be surprising.
It should be pointed out first that Gallup specifically asked about drugs that alter a person's mood or help them relax, rather than illegal drug use. This means that people with medical marijuana prescriptions or people who live in states where marijuana is legalized could still be counted; so could people who abuse legitimate prescriptions for painkillers and other medication; and so could people who take medication for mood disorders such as depression. It could theoretically include alcohol, as well. Rather than try to list types of drugs, Gallup simply asked about drugs that "alter your mood or help you relax," and left the interpretation up to the respondents.
Still, even factoring all of that in, the percentage of people who report near daily use of a mood-altering drug is surprising: Nationally, 18.9 percent of people say that they do. That's almost one in five!
So which states have the highest rates of drug use? Well, obviously people using drugs can be found in every state in the country, though six of the 10 states with the highest rates of usage are found in the South. And curiously, despite being the first state in the country to legalize marijuana, Colorado is one of the states with the ten lowest rates of daily drug use. And in fact no state that has legalized marijuana appears on the list of the ten highest.
So which states do have the highest and the lowest rates of daily drug use? Well here are the top five from each category.
Highest Percentage of Daily Mood-Altering Drug Users:
22.9 percent of the people in Louisiana use mood-altering drugs almost every day.
In Alabama, 24.2 percent of people use drugs to alter their mood on a near-daily basis.
A total of 24.5 percent of Kentuckians use mood altering drugs almost every day.
2. Rhode Island
The only northeastern state to make the top ten, 25.9 percent of people in Rhode Island use mood altering drugs almost daily.
1. West Virginia
The state with the highest rate of near-daily drug use, a total of 28.1 percent of people in West Virginia take something to alter their mood nearly every day.
Lowest Percentage of Daily Mood-Altering Drug Users:
5. North Dakota
In North Dakota, only 16.4 percent of people say they use mood-altering drugs nearly every day, well below the national average.
In Illinois, 16 percent of people use drugs that alter their mood nearly every day.
Despite its hippie reputation, only 15.8 percent of people in California report using a mood-altering substance on a near daily basis.
In Wyoming, 15.5 percent of residents reportedly use mood-altering drugs almost every day.
I guess all the wild life and scenery is enough for Alaskans — though if I lived in a place where the sun literally didn't come up for part of the year, I think I would need to be medicated. But only 13.5 percent of Alaskans report using mood-altering drugs on a near-daily basis, the lowest rate in the country.
You can find more state rankings here.
Images: Getty (10)