Which Cities Have the Highest Rates of Drug Addiction in 2019?

Medically Reviewed

Drug addiction is a public health crisis that respects no boundaries. Illicit and prescription drug abuse impacts every conceivable space of American soil, from quaint rural communities to heavily populated urban centers, stretching from Maine to California, Washington to Florida, and every parcel of land in between.

National statistics add heft to the scope of American drug addiction. For starters, 70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2017, with the majority of them involving opioid use. Between 1999 and 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose. That number exceeds the populations of cities like Boston, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Detroit. Of that number, opioid overdose claimed 400,000 lives over that same span.

What’s more, experts predict that opioid-related deaths will only get worse due to the presence of supremely powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Recent data suggest that the use of certain illicit drugs have remained stable or have declined in recent years. Yet, for several American cities, drug addiction remains prevalent, particularly those that are disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic. One indicator of addiction is the number of overdose deaths that occur in particular areas.

In no particular order, here are the cities that have the highest rates of drug addiction:


An April 2019 report called Baltimore, Maryland’s most populous city, “ground zero” for the opioid crisis. Some compelling data support this claim: In 2011, the overdose death rate was 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011. That rate spiked to 49.1 per 100,000 in 2016. However, the 2017 rate has far surpassed the one from the year before at 85.2 per 100,000, which is nearly equivalent to 0.1 percent of Baltimore’s population.

Huntington, West Virginia

It’s natural for the state with the nation’s highest overdose death rate per capita to have the city considered the overdose capital of America. Recent reports indicate a sharp decline in overdose deaths in Huntington’s home county. However, there is one startling fact that highlights just how devastating the opioid epidemic has been on this rugged Appalachian city: the number of babies born with drug dependency is 10 times the national average.


According to this 2019 Washington Post report, 2,300 Philadelphians have died from opioid overdoses in the past two years. In fact, the overdose rate in Pennsylvania’s biggest city is four times its homicide rate. This city is particularly notorious for having one of the country’s largest open-air drug markets. The predominant illicit substance that is sold there is fentanyl-laced heroin, also the primary catalyst in overdose deaths.

Dayton, Ohio

At one point, this former manufacturing hub in the midwest had one of the highest overdose death rates in the nation. A recent New York Times report indicated that overdoses were down considerably in 2018 thanks to increased access to treatment. However, that does not mean that the ravages from this epidemic still are not felt in 2019. Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, saw a short-term increase in overdose deaths in 2019.


The state of Illinois saw opioid-related deaths surge past 2,200 in 2017, with half of those coming from the Chicagoland area. The primary driver of those deaths was fentanyl as it was responsible for 669 deaths in Cook County in 2017. The opioid epidemic continues to be an issue in 2019. A Chicago Sun-Times report from April 2019 indicated that in mere hours, 17 people suffered from drug overdoses, and four of them died throughout parts of the city. The substance responsible, according to authorities, was heroin.

Wilmington, North Carolina

The state of North Carolina alone saw a staggering increase in opioid drug deaths from 1999 to 2016. In fact, statistics placed that increase at 800 percent. Wilmington, North Carolina’s eighth-most populous city, had the highest rate of opioid abuse in the nation in 2016, according to a report from a private healthcare information company. The report stated that more than 11.6 percent of the city’s population that received prescription painkillers abused them. The good news is that the city has seen sharp declines in opioid-related deaths.


The county that is home to this long-suffering midwestern metropolis saw an eight-month spike in opioid-related deaths in 2017. The primary driver of that increase was the lethal synthetic opioid carfentanil. According to this report, carfentanil was detected in 27 percent of accidental opioid overdose deaths between July 2016 and February 2017.

Washington, D.C.

In the nation’s capital, opioid overdose deaths fell from 279 to 213 from 2017 to 2018, but that figure still surpassed the number of homicides in the city. In fact, to counter the epidemic, the district has allowed its police officers to carry naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote. The city itself purchased 66,000 naloxone kits in 2019 to counter the issue of drug deaths, of which D.C. had one of the country’s highest rates.


Hamilton County, the home county to Ohio’s third largest city, had 440 overdose deaths in 2018, which was down from the 570 that were recorded last year. Again, fentanyl was the reason. A report from 2018 indicated that Hamilton County saw a 1,000 percent increase in deaths from synthetic opioids.

How Professional Addiction Treatment Can Help You

With the prevalence of drug addiction and overdose, professional treatment can be a lifesaving solution.

A professional recovery program is a comprehensive, holistic, and multilevel course that addresses addiction. For alcohol, opioids, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and prescription drugs, a reputable program is designed to treat the entire individual — mind, body, and soul.

Treatment starts with medical detoxification, where the addictive substance is removed from the body. After detox, a patient can receive counseling and therapy through a residential treatment or outpatient program, depending on the severity of the addiction.

These programs offer clients psychological treatment that identifies the underlying causes of their addiction.

After treatment is completed, clients can get connected to a recovery community and resources that provide support, mentorship, and inspiration via an alumni program.

Get Help Today

You do not have to be another statistic claimed by drug addiction. Let us help you find a treatment option that can help you.

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