When it comes to human psychology, including addiction, there are a number of questions about the factors that influence our behavior.
Is an addict’s condition a product of his or her upbringing – or is it about something more fundamental to their personality? What about their environment – can a person’s surroundings impact who they become? Can it override their existing “programming?”
The question answered here is this: does someone’s likelihood of abusing a particular drug change depending on where they live? Are certain drugs more favored by people who live in rural areas in the U.S.? What about urban areas?
You can learn about this and more in the infographic below.
While it’s true that the nation’s metropolitan areas tend to abuse drugs in greater numbers, this alone isn’t the full story; it’s when we look at specific drugs that we get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
Rural areas, for example, are a great deal more likely to abuse alcohol (50% compared to 36%) and opiates (11% compared to 4%). Marijuana is more likely to be abused in rural areas as well, though it’s not quite so dramatic a difference: 21% in rural areas compared to 17% in urban areas.
The drugs of choice in urban surroundings are heroin (22% urban vs. 3% rural) and cocaine (12% urban vs. 6% rural).
Finally, to complete this nationwide portrait of drug use, refer to the bottom of the infographic for a startling look at rates of drug-related emergency room visits in the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas. The national rate sits at 317 (per 100,000 people), while cities like Boston (571) and New York City (555) exceed this average by a significant margin.
Above all, don’t forget that help is out there if you – or someone you know – are struggling with a substance abuse problem.
Urban vs. Rural Drug Abuse [Infographic]
Infographic by 12 Keys Recovery

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