According to the 2016 statistical report of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there’s an upward trend of the total number of overdose deaths in the US since 2000 to 2016. However, amidst the serious substance abuse epidemic in the country, Texas is one of the 18 states with lower overdose rates than the national rate. From 75,613 patient admissions to drug-related treatment programs in 2015, the total number of admissions went down to 73,987 last year.
The substance abuse trends in Texas partially have a something to do about the Mexican border. This is because a large area of the Texas-Mexican border is open and is less secure. It has become the access point for smuggled drugs into the states. Drug cartels and drug trafficking organizations also rise in number, making access to illegal drugs becoming easier for the people in the community.
Copious amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are being transported to the US by drug trafficking organizations regularly. And of course, alcohol remains as the most abused substance in the state even though there’s a good downward trend for the abuse of this substance.
Most Commonly Abused Substances in Texas
The government of Texas doesn’t only have concerns with abuse of illicit drugs. Abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs are just as likely a big problem.
According to the 2016 statistics of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Behavioral Health Services, there’s a downward trend on patient admissions related to most substances abused.
However, Methamphetamine abuse increased to 16.9% in 2016 compared to its previous year which was only 14.8%.
Here are top five of the most commonly abused substances in Texas as of 2016:
- Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance in Texas. However, there’s an improvement in the number of patient admissions as it had gone down to 24% in 2016 from 25.5% in 2015. Out of the 17,778 patients admitted for alcohol treatment, 67.4% of these admissions were males, and 32.4% were females. Most patients admitted were in the middle age group with an average age of 39.
- Marijuana Abuse
Some cities in Texas such as Dallas have moved to implement cite-and-release policies of marijuana. However, production, possession, and usage of marijuana remain illegal in the Lone Star State.There’s a decrease of marijuana-related admissions to drug abuse treatment facilities in 2016. From 16,698 patient admissions in 2015, it has gone down to 16,886 last year. There were more male residents (69.5%) treated from a marijuana overdose, and only 30.5% were females. Smoking was the common route of administration of this substance. The average age affected with marijuana overdose is 25.
- Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine remains a significant drug threat to the people, according to half of the 18 DEA offices in Texas. 98% of methamphetamine is mainly produced using Phenyl-2-Propanone (P2P). And there’s an increase in production of the ‘Liquid Meth’ as it’s easier to transport into the US.In 2016, Methamphetamine indicators were higher than its previous year. From 11,193 (14.8%) patient admissions to treatment programs in 2015, it rose to 12,519 (16.9%) admissions last year. Most of the citizens affected are in the middle age group with more female (56.1%) admissions to treatment facilities than males (43.9%). There were also 715 reported overdose deaths in the state due to methamphetamine abuse.
- Heroin Abuse
There weren’t many changes in the heroin indicators in Texas. But there was a slight decrease in the number of patient admissions to treatment programs from 14.2% in 2015 to 14.0% in 2016. There’s also a 2% decrease in heroin seizures along the Texas–Mexico border. Most people affected are males (59.3%) in the middle-aged group with an average age of 34. The common route of administration of this substance was through injections.Heroin hasn’t become an epidemic in Texas, unlike other places. This is because the usual type of heroin distributed in the region is Mexican Black Tar, which can’t easily mix with Fentanyl. But there’s an increasing availability of ‘white’ Mexican heroin. These types of heroin available are transformed into a powder by mixing it with diphenhydramine, Tylenol® or different fixings. In 2016, there were only 3% reported overdose deaths due to heroin.
- Cocaine Abuse
Sources of cocaine in Texas are mainly straight from Mexico, although some countries had become suppliers of this illegal drug. Cocaine indicators have been trending downward. There’s a slight decrease in the number of patients admitted to substance abuse treatment programs due to cocaine. From 8.5% in 2015, it has slightly dropped to 8.2% last year. Almost 50% of males and females were admitted due to cocaine abuse in 2016. The average age of patients admitted due to cocaine overdose is 40.
Availability of cocaine is high. However, there’s instability with the sources because of cartel wars. Also, the amount of cocaine seized at the Texas–Mexico border was down to 11% between 2014 and 2016.
According to street outreach workers, powdered cocaine has been gaining popularity among the homeless. This was because of its cheaper cost. Crack cocaine use among the homeless was reported to be prevalent. Inhalation of the substance was the common route of administration.
In 2016, poison calls to the Texas Poison Center Network involving cocaine declined to 477. 22% of the heroin overdose death cases were positive for cocaine.
Prescription Drug Abuse
There’s almost a 50% decrease in the number of patient admissions to substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription opioids from 2012 to 2016. It was known that more females (60.5%) were admitted than males (39.5%).
Prescription drugs commonly abused in Texas can include:
Although there are easy access and availability of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs, Texas authorities are serious in providing solutions for this social problem. The substance abuse problem throughout Texas stems mainly from the Texas-Mexican border and port access. However, the government’s preemptive measures, education towards their citizens, and drug trafficking cessation create hope for the community.