Washington, D.C., has the highest rate of drug use and addiction of any state in the country, according to a WalletHub study released Monday.
Drug addiction has become an epidemic in the U.S., claiming the lives of more than 60,000 Americans in 2016 — more than during the Vietnam War. The eastern U.S. has been hardest hit, with state and federal lawmakers scrambling for a solution. Some have proposed legal “injection sites” where addicts can shoot heroin safely to cut down on overdose deaths.
The District of Columbia, Missouri, New Hampshire, Michigan, and West Virginia have been most ravaged by the crisis, while Minnesota is faring better than any other state, according to the WalletHub study.
WalletHub ranked the jurisdictions based on three factors: the rate of drug use and addiction, how law enforcement treats the drug trade, and the amount of drug health issues as well as the availability of rehab. D.C. was rated the worst in the country for both the drug addiction rate and drug health issues, while coming in 22nd in law enforcement, with one being the worst.
President Donald Trump’s administration has made battling the opioid epidemic a top priority, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing more and more law enforcement initiatives aimed at killing the drug trade. Many, however, argue Sessions’ “tough-on-crime” methods have been tried and failed since the 1980s. The critics argue the country should adopt a different approach, emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment for non-violent drug offenders.
The U.S. spent $27.5 billion on combating drug use in 2017, up from $23.8 billion in 2013. The epidemic has cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion since 2001, according to Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting institute.
Individuals experience the cost in lost wages alongside the direct effects of opioid abuse. Every person who dies from opioid abuse represents an estimated $800,000 loss to the economy. The private sector incurs the cost in the form of lost employees and productivity.
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