Washington D.C. Drug Addiction
Drugs and crime may nowhere be more closely linked than in our nation's capital.
The biggest drug threats to the city are from crack and powder cocaine. Crack cocaine in particular is associated with violence plus property and personal crime. Crack dealers in the city operate mostly from open-air markets set up along commuting corridors or in public housing projects. These markets not only serve addicts in the city but also customers from the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. As a result, the city is peppered with crime incidents.
In the U.S., only four other cities have higher rates of robberies. In the first six months of 2008, D.C. saw 1400 assaults with deadly weapons, 2000 burglaries and more than 10,000 thefts, including thefts from persons, thefts from autos and car thefts.
Drug Use and Addiction Lead to High Death Rates
The District of Columbia has two to eighteen times the death rate from drugs as its suburbs. In 2007, the rate of drug-related deaths per thousand people was 36.4. For comparison, the rate in Fairfax County, Virginia was 2; the rate in Frederick County, Maryland was 12.5.
The primary killer was the opioid class of drugs that includes heroin and morphine along with prescription drugs such as OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin and Lortab (hydrocodone), methadone, and even Suboxone, the recently-developed drug that is supposed to help addicts recover from their opiate addictions. There is some trafficking in heroin in the District, but not nearly the quantity seen in neighboring Baltimore where heroin has been a life-destroying curse for many years. Most of the deaths in D.C. are from other opiates than heroin or methadone.
In second place in the race to kill is cocaine (crack and powder). In third place is alcohol followed by more prescription drugs of the antidepressant and anti-anxiety (benzodiazepines) classes.
The Drug Problem Spills Over into the Suburbs
It common for drug dealers in suburban Maryland or Virginia to travel either to the open-air markets in D.C. or to Baltimore to buy supplies and then return to their apparently safe suburbs to distribute their supplies. In December of 2009, 38 people in Northern Virginia were arrested for running just this type of operation dealing heroin, oxycodone and methadone to suburban youth.
When two of these youth died earlier in 2009, law enforcement set up sting operations and began buying drugs from suburban dealers in gyms, grocery stores, homes and pharmacies. As happens in many areas, suburban youth may find it acceptable to abuse prescription drugs because they are "legitimate" drugs, but once they are addicted to one of these opioids, they may switch to heroin because it is cheaper.
Virginia has seem a 91 percent increase in deaths from prescription drugs and heroin in the last few years, and Maryland has seen a 20 percent increase.
Addiction Often Goes Untreated in the District
Approximately 590,000 people live in the District of Columbia. According to federal surveys, more than 60,000 of these people state that they are dependent on or abuse alcohol or illicit drugs - slightly more than one in ten. The national average is about one in thirteen.
The vast majority of these people do not find substance abuse treatment centers. In 2007, only 2300 people received treatment, with the top drugs sending these people to drug rehab being alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin. Seventeen thousand said they didn't get the addiction treatment they needed for illicit drug use and 49,000 people needed alcohol rehab and didn't get it.
Unfortunately, many substance abuse treatment centers only see 10 to 20 percent of those completing treatment stay free from drug abuse in the future. There are three outcomes to addiction: sobriety, jail or death. Those not succeeding in staying free from further narcotic, alcohol or other drug abuse run a serious risk of death or incarceration. The key to bringing about real drug recovery is a treatment center with a better rate of success. That's why the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has worked for more than 40 years to bring its highly successful drug addiction treatment program to as many people as possible. In its rehabs across American and the world, seven out of ten of Narconon graduates remain clean of drugs or alcohol abuse after graduation.
Narconon Drug Information Department