Report: Alabama has most opioid prescriptions per capita
A new study shows that Alabama ranks relatively well nationally when it comes to overall drug use problems, however, a more in-depth analysis shows a very mixed bag.
The personal-finance website WalletHub on Monday released a report on the “States with the Biggest Drug Problems in 2019,” with Alabama beating the national average and coming in at number 35.
Comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 22 key metrics, ranging from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescriptions and employee drug testing laws, D.C., WalletHub ranked Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia and Indiana as the five places with the biggest drug problems.
The metrics were spread across three core categories: 1) Drug Use & Addiction, 2) Law Enforcement and 3) Drug Health Issues & Rehab. Alabama actually ranked as the nation’s best in the Law Enforcement category, yet it also came in at the exact opposite end of the spectrum in multiple metrics.
The most glaring problem area for the Yellowhammer State is opioid prescriptions, with Alabama experiencing 107 of these prescriptions per 100 residents. This is the nation’s highest rate for opioid prescriptions.
Additionally, in the overall category of Drug Health Issues & Rehab, Alabama was ranked at number three — or third worst. This points to the state not having adequate medical and support resources for drug users and addicts.
A few metrics in this category were especially dire for Alabama.
The state has the lowest number of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors per capita, and WalletHub awarded the Yellowhammer State the absolute lowest possible score possible when it comes to the availability of drug treatment programs for pregnant women. Additionally, Alabama ranked fourth when it comes to the share of addiction treatment medication paid by Medicaid in the state, which came in at just 5.5 percent.
Alabama’s was ranked as having the ninth most “Clandestine Drug Laboratories or Dumpsites” per capita.
The state’s overall drug use metrics looked good compared to the rest of the nation. Alabama’s share of teenagers (7.21 percent) and adults (8.82 percent) who used drugs in the last month put the state at number 36 and 39 respectively. The state’s overdose per capita rate was ranked at number 32.
Overall, WalletHub’s study showed red states faring significantly better than blue states when it comes to drug use.
Read more about the study’s methodology here.
These rankings come soon after CVS completed the rollout of time delay safes in all of the company’s Alabama locations. This move was aimed at deterring pharmacy robberies, especially when it comes to opioid thefts.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn