Washington sits quietly to the northwest of the United States, and nearly 60 percent of its residents live in or around the Seattle area. The state is often cited for its exceptional landscape that includes a mix of deep rainforests, glaciers, mountain ranges, basins and small pockets of islands. Overall, the Evergreen State is a beautiful place to live, especially for those who enjoy the great outdoors. What’s interesting is that within the boundaries of this quiet peaceful state lie major drug problems.

The River Source works with recovering drug addicts from across the United States, and we’re always surprised to learn where many of our patients come from. While we often believe it’s the large cities that are responsible for the nation’s drug problems, it’s often the small and less publicized states that harbor the most issues. Washington is one of those states. In 2007 and 2008, Washington was one of the top ten states for high rates of recreational drug use in many categories. Beneath the towering evergreens and tall mountain ranges there lie substance abuse problems that many are unaware of.

Why Addiction is Prevalent in Washington

In 2006 and 2007, it was reported that the greatest sources of drug abuse were due to cocaine, marijuana and heroin. Cocaine is the drug that is most prevalent, responsible for the most drug arrests and admittances to treatment. Washington is also a target for drugs because it’s a short distance from California. It’s easy to move illegal substances up the coastline and into Washington.

Another drug that has attracted statewide attention: meth. With expansive areas in the rural communities of Washington, it’s easy to create meth labs and produce the in-demand drug. Meth labs can be difficult to detect since they can be run out of a basement, and anyone with basic meth-making skills can produce the drug. With the traditionally high rate of cocaine use in the state, many drug dealers have pointed their buyers to alternative drugs like meth and heroin that are cheaper.

How Does Washington Compare to Other States?

Compared to the national average, Washington has higher rates of drug abuse. Approximately 10 percent of residents reported using illegal drugs in the past month, compared to the national average of 8 percent. In 2007 and 2008, Washington was one of the top ten states for drug abuse rates in several categories, including: past-month illicit drug use, past-month marijuana use and past-year nonmedical use of pain pills.

Furthermore, the rate of drug-induced deaths in Washington is more than the national average, approximately 15.5 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 12.7 per 100,000. In 2007, there were 1,003 people who died in Washington as a direct consequence of drugs, and this number is more than the victims who died from firearms and car accidents.

A Close Look at the Numbers

Below is the percentage of the Washington population using and/or abusing drugs.

Illicit Drugs Age 18+
Past Month Illicit Drug Use 1 10.19%
Past Year Marijuana Use 11.54%
Past Month Marijuana Use 7.44%
Past Month Use of Illicit Drugs other Than Marijuana 1 4.47%
Past Year Cocaine Use 2.62%
Past Year Non-Medical Pain Reliever Use 6.25%
Alcohol Age 18+
Past Month Alcohol Use 58.46%
Past Month Binge Alcohol Use 2 23.79%
Past Year Dependence, Abuse & Treatment Age 18+
Illicit Drug Dependence 1 1.91%
Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 1 2.69%
Alcohol Dependence 3.80%
Alcohol Dependence or Abuse 7.85%
Alcohol or Illict Dependence or Abuse 1 9.36%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Illicit Drug Use 1, 3 2.45%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Alcohol Use 3 7.23%
1 – Illicit Drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically. Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana include cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically2 – Binge alcohol is defined as drinking five or more drinks in the same setting on at least one day in the past 30 days3 – Needing But Not Receiving Treatment refers to the respondents needing treatment for illicit drug or alcohol use but not seeking specific treatment at a facility

4 – Major Depressive Episode is defined as having a period of at least 2 weeks where a person experienced a depressed state of mind or loss of interest in daily activities. They also have the symptoms listed in the DSM-IV

Source: National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 2004 and 2005, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies

Serious Psychological Distress 10.43%

Why Washington Residents Should Seek Treatment in Arizona

For many of our patients, it required a change of location to be fully invested in their recovery. Since Washington has a high demand for drugs, it can be difficult to live in your current environment and expect to have a successful recovery from drug addiction. The River Source is nestled in the quiet, peaceful confines of the Arizona desert, and the warm, sunny skies are a welcoming change from the often gray and drizzly days in Washington. Our Washington patients connect with Mother Nature often for the first time at our community and learn how to nurture their mind, body and spirit. Both states reamin on the western half of the country, making it realistic fro family to visit as well.