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News / Nation & World

Missouri has one of the worst drug problems in the country, national study says

By Joseph Hernandez, The Kansas City Star
Published: May 12, 2024, 6:08am

A recent study revealed that the drug crisis in Missouri is one of the worst in the United States.

Personal finance website WalletHub analyzed statistics from many sources, like the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The study found that Missouri is the sixth-worst state for drug usage.

WalletHub used the data to compare all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 20 key metrics, ranging from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescription use and employee drug testing laws.

The financial website put the metrics into three categories — drug use and addiction, law enforcement, and drug health issues and rehab — then ranked each state on a scale of 100.

Missouri scored 55.93 on the overall scale:

  • Drug use and addiction: 19th worst in the country
  • Law enforcement: 6th worst in the country
  • Drug health issues and rehab: 8th worst in the country

Kansas ranked 19th, with an overall score of 45.97. Its lowest-scoring category was drug health issues and rehab, ranking 14th in the U.S.

Missouri saw more than 2,000 overdose deaths between November 2022 and November 2023, according to the most recent data available from the CDC. Kansas recorded about 650 for the same time period.

Some of the other metrics WalletHub looked at in each category include:

  • The share of teenagers and adults who have used illicit drug in the past months
  • The amount of drug arrests per capita and states with employee drug testing laws
  • The share of adults who couldn’t get treatment for illicit drug usage in the past year and the accessibility of Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

New Mexico has the biggest drug problem in the country, according to WalletHub. West Virginia, Nevada, the District of Columbia and Colorado rounded out the top five.

The Star has done extensive reporting about the fentanyl crisis in the past year, including the death toll in the Kansas City area, the stories of fentanyl victims, law enforcement’s effort to stem the tide and the threat to young children.

Staff members also partnered with local health organizations to hand out the overdose-reversing medication naloxone. You can learn more about Kansas City area resources in our free, downloadable pamphlet.

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