Facts About Substance Use in Virginia

Published On: July 20, 2022|Categories: Addiction, Educational|

Unfortunately, drug use has been on the rise across the United States. According to a Pew Research study, nearly half of the population knows someone who struggles with addiction. While there are socioeconomic and biological factors that increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder, addiction can happen to anyone.

The state of Virginia has seen a significant increase in substance use, including overdose deaths. If you’re local to Virginia and you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, here’s some information about the facts and figures and their implications.

Statistics on substance use in Virginia

In order to explore addiction statistics in Virginia, we’ll break the available data down into several categories. 

Opioid use statistics

According to the Virginia Department of Health, an average of four Virginians died from an opioid overdose every day in 2020. The number of emergency room visits due to opioid use was 9,901 in 2020, an increase of 33 percent from 2019. Moreover, the number of overdose deaths increased between 2019 and 2020 by 17 percent.

These statistics include both recreational opioid use and misuse of prescription painkillers.

Additional consequences of increased opioid use are the heightened risks of potentially contracting hepatitis C and HIV through sharing needles to inject opioids. Hepatitis C causes inflammation of the liver while HIV decreases the body’s ability to fight infection. You can find the rates of this condition in each county in Virginia by year here for Hepatitis C and here for HIV.

Marijuana use statistics

As of July 2021, adults over the age of 21 in Virginia have the ability to purchase, consume and grow marijuana, with some limitations. Among Virginia residents who responded to a 2020 questionnaire, around 17.3 percent reported using marijauna in the past year, with only two states (Texas and South Dakota) ranking lower. 

This may be due to marijuana being illegal until 2021 in Virginia. State data on marijuana use following its decriminalization are not yet available.

Alcohol use statistics

Research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that during a three-year period from 2014 to 2017, an average of 5.6 percent of Virginia adults struggled with alcohol addiction. This statistic is similar to the national average of 5.8 percent.

Tobacco use statistics

The SAMHSA study also found that 28.9 percent of people aged 12 and older used tobacco in 2021. While tobacco is often seen as a low-risk drug and tends to be less chemically addictive than other drugs, it can still result in a full-fledged addiction and cause grievous harm to one’s health. 

Substance use treatment 

A staggering number of individuals face drug addiction, and sadly too few of them go on to receive the potentially life-saving care they need. It’s estimated that only one-tenth of those who have a substance use disorder attend treatment

On a single count day in 2017, of those who were enrolled in treatment programs, more than 50 percent were being treated for a drug-only issue, 13 percent received treatment for an alcohol-only issue, and about 30 percent were treated for both drug and alcohol issues.

Implications for public health

Drug and alcohol addiction leads to numerous public health issues. The following list includes potential outcomes if widespread addiction goes unaddressed and untreated, according to the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis.

  • Increasing numbers of bloodborne pathogen infections
  • Higher rates of overdose deaths
  • Higher rates of overdose emergencies
  • Increased community violence
  • Poor regional educational performance
  • Increased homelessness
  • Increased unemployment
  • Increased incarceration rates
  • Increased financial issues
  • Relational distress
  • The increased economic burden on the state and local governments
  • Family instability
  • Increased risk of effects in utero
  • Increased risk of abuse or neglect
  • Increased risk of comorbid mental health conditions

Substance abuse has a significant negative impact on both individuals and society as a whole. The more we understand the scope of the problem, the better equipped we are to combat addiction, by caring for individuals on a case-by-case basis as well as by implementing broader initiatives.

Getting help

Statistics about addiction in Virginia may be harrowing, but the good news is that help is available. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, your best bet for recovery is to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Trying to heal from substance abuse on your own is difficult and may be dangerous. Don’t risk it — reach out to get the care you need today.

Pyramid Healthcare can provide the holistic care you need to heal both your body and mind from substance use disorders. Call 844-444-0027 today to schedule an appointment and take your first steps toward freedom.

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