D.C. Has the Highest Rate Across the Nation for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

According to the Washington Examiner, D.C. has the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse across the nation. The vast opportunity to obtain drugs, high stress levels and issues of abusers not seeking treatment have contributed to this high rate.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that 11.3 percent of people of the ages 12 and older abused or relied on alcohol or drugs throughout the past year. This is substantially larger from the national average which is 8.9 percent.

The D.C. area sees drug and alcohol problems throughout all walks of life within the community. The SAMHSA discovered in their surveys that the most popular consumed drugs in the District are alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Politicians, lobbyists and others regularly attend functions where they socialize for their job, in a drinking setting. Babette Wise, director of the alcohol and drug abuse program at Georgetown University Hospital stated that since drinking is tied to work, it’s harder for them or others to recognize a problem. “People will think, ‘How can my relative be an addict when he has this high position or she’s making all this money?’” Wise said.

D.C. also has large populations of people who suffer from the stress of high-pressure careers and poverty, both which have been known to lead to drug abuse. One of the major issues for the high rate of abusers are due to people not knowing how to get help, not thinking they need help, not able to find treatment and unable to afford care, among other reasons, said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

Since these abusers are not seeking help on their own, the District is now training primary care doctors, mental-health services providers and HIV treatment centers to screen people for alcohol and drug problems.





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