Substance Use and Mental Illness Across the United States

Substance use and mental health problems have now been pinpointed in individual geographical areas throughout the nation through a major survey conducted between 2004 and 2006. This survey was able to identify variations and patterns in 340 different localities across the United States by studying and analyzing the use of 23 substances.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Survey helps determine levels of mental health in different geographical areas throughout the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Involving responses from over 200,000 people over the age 12, researchers are now able to analyze the information literally neighborhood by neighborhood across the United States.

Such large, yet specific, studies are now able to give public health officials insight into the type of programs necessary to most effectively treat the drug problems and mental health issues found in their own neighborhoods, and clearly point to the fact that the best place to treat these issues is in the individual neighborhoods where the problems are found.

Research was done on overall illicit drug use, marijuana use, cocaine use, non-medical use of pain relievers, alcohol and cigarette use, the need and availability of treatment, and various psychological distresses. Much of the report is available via maps, indicating percentage of use by region and state.

The highest use of marijuana, in the last year of the study, can be attributed to the northern quarter of California state, the eastern quadrant of Montana, and almost all of Alaska and Rhode Island, while Utah and Texas are on the low end of that spectrum. Moving up the hierarchy, to harder drugs, the map that chronicles recent use has a line almost directly bisecting the nation in half, between north and south. The northern states having the lowest incidence, starting in Oregon and Washington and moving east, while California begins the trend toward higher use, with heavy pockets in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida.