Drug Abuse in Philadelphia

Drug Abuse in Philadelphia

High Drug Abuse Rates in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the largest and most populous metro areas in the U.S., and drug abuse and crime rates in the city are closely monitored as such trends in cities close to the coasts are often harbingers of what will happen in the interior cities soon after.

A 2012 summary of a report compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, using data from Philadelphia county collected by the National Forensic Laboratory Information System, gives a clear picture of what substances are being abused most often, and shows that the use of some drugs is on the rise, while abuse of others has remained at the same levels as in previous years, and still others have fallen in popularity.

The report analyzed data from a number of indicators, including drug abuse treatment, street market, criminal justice, and mortality statistics.

Alcohol and Marijuana Still Most Abused Substances

Alcohol remained by far the most abused substance in Philadelphia, representing 39.7% of treatment admissions, and 26.7% of fatality cases where there was a presence of drugs.

Marijuana was the next most abused substance, where it accounted for 32.9% of all positive results on drug tests. In addition, 30% of offenders being placed on parole or probation for the first time tested positive for marijuana use.

The rise of heroin and morphine use was among the most troubling trends documented by the report, and many are calling it an epidemic. Overdoses related to heroin rose 250% in the two years prior to the report, and accounted for 57.7% of deaths caused by overdose. Substance Abuse Treatment Center admissions for heroin and morphine abuse rose to 24% in 2012.

Other Drugs on the Streets of Philadelphia

Sad young man sitting at the window

Cocaine abuse, which in the years prior to the 2012 report had competed with marijuana for for the highest rates of positive drug testing results, declined somewhat to 27%.

However, treatment rates for cocaine rose slightly to 11.6%, while mortality cases where the presence of drugs was detected rose considerably, from 26.5% in 2011 to 39% in 2012.

Cocaine has consistently remained one of the most popular drugs of choice in Philadelphia, ranking fourth behind alcohol, marijuana, and heroin.

Abuse of prescription and OTC drugs showed both increase and decline in 2012, depending on the indicators analyzed.

Presence of these drugs in fatality cases increased from 51.6% in 2011 to 65.5% in 2012, while admissions for treatment declined. Oxycodone use also showed a decline.

Amphetamine and PCP abuse has historically been low in the Philadelphia area, and 2012 was no exception, although they still have a presence on the street.

The rates of HIV/AIDS transmission from the practice of sharing needles to inject drugs declined in 2012, showing the positive effect of educational programs.