The number of people overdosing from prescription drugs in the District of Columbia has increased more than 55 percent since 1999.  In 2015, 13.5 of DC students ingested a prescription drug without receiving authorization from a doctor.  DC ranks firstly nationally for the percentage of adults who were in need of but did not receive treatment for prescription drug abuse.  Those who need drug addiction help, DC area otherwise, should be able to access it.

This trend of increasing drug use does not just extend to the DC area, and does not just involve the abuse of prescription drugs.  Drug use has been rising across the United States for a while.

Who exactly is doing more drugs?

As drug use is so rampant within the United States, it is safe to say that there are not any demographics which are immune to drug abuse.  However, some specific groups have seen large increases in drug consumption in the past couple of decades.  The biggest changes have been in groups that are not normally viewed as demographics which are prone to substance abuse.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gaps in the use of heroin between rich and poor and men and women have narrowed significantly in the 21st century.  Between 2002 and 2021, rates of heroin use in women increased by 100 percent.  In the same time span, rates of heroin use in households who make $50,000 or more increased annually by 60 percent.


Women are currently the fastest growing demographic for alcohol and drug use in the US.  As many as 4.5 million women who are aged over 12 have substance use disorder issues.  3.5 million often abuse illicit drugs.  Among girls who are aged between 12-17, the non-medical abuse of

prescription painkillers, methamphetamine and alcohol now either match or in some cases exceed that of boys who are of the same age.

Of the 6.5 million Americans who abused prescription drugs in 2013, over half were women.


Drug use has historically been viewed as a problem which is reserved for the disadvantaged and poor, but studies in recent years have been debunking this myth.  The Health Kids Survey, which was conducted in 2007 and based on the responses of people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California, found that kids from wealth areas were in fact more likely to use drugs than their counterparts in poorer communities.  The survey cited greater disposable income, pressures to succeed and parental absenteeism as factors which contribute to this.

Part of the reason that addiction and substance abuse are closely linked to poverty is that low education is a risk factor in the development of a substance use disorder, and the majority of affluent people are relatively well education.  But affluence also comes with its own set of risks.  A 2012 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs noted that young people in the highest socioeconomic bracket were much more likely than their peers to use marijuana and drink alcohol.

Other research theorizes that there is an impact of “rich kids’ syndrome”, where the social, professional and parental obligations in rich family lead to reductions in family-centered interactions.  Psychotherapists suggest that these affluent young people spend more time with hired help than they do with their parents, and often lead over-scheduled lives which creates mental distress and decreases family closeness.

Fortunately for the affluent, they are those who are most able to access Drug addiction help DC.

Baby boomers

Maybe the most surprising demographic of people in the United States who are increasing their drug use is the over 50 age group.  This group is made from baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964.  In many instances, people born in this age stopped using drugs as they started families, but have now gone back to drug use and abuse because they have fewer familial and professional responsibilities.  This is the generation that was previously obsessed with sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.

Older people are abusing drugs, dying from drug overdoses and being arrested for drug offenses are much higher rates than in the past.  The death rate among those aged 45-64 for accidental overdose increased 11-fold between 1990 and 2021.  Over 12,000 baby boomers died because of drug overdoses in 2013, and this trend is likely to continue.

This means that the number of aging people who require Drug addiction help DC will only continue rising


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