Minnesota Alcohol & Drug Statistics
Minnesota is home to more than 5 million people, more than half of whom live in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan areas. Bordered by Canada on the north, Iowa on the south and the Dakotas on the west, it is a rich land with vast prairies, rolling hills, deep valleys and vast wetlands. The seasons can be extreme varying from cold and snowy winters to warm and sunny summers.
Prescription medications, illegal substances, alcohol and other substances are misused and abused every day in Minnesota. While in the past, illegal drugs were often a primary concern, prescription medications are becoming increasingly problematic. Demand for opioid drugs such as fentanyl is often leading some users to initiate heroin use while cocaine users are turning to drugs such as methamphetamine when they are unable to access cocaine.
Illegal Drug Use
Illegal drugs are widely used and strongly associated with treatment programs, including:
- Cocaine, which accounts for more than 4 percent of all treatment admissions
- Heroin, which accounts for more than 13 percent of all treatment admissions
- Methamphetamine, which accounts for more than 9 percent of all treatment admissions
According to substance abuse statistics, about 44 percent of admissions are linked to alcohol abuse while 10 percent are linked to prescription opiates.
The consequences of street drug use can be severe and lifelong. Drugs that are injected can lead to the collapse of veins and a high risk of infection in the heart valves and blood vessels. Drugs and alcohol can also lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and vomiting, which can lead to weight loss, malnutrition and dental disease, while opioid use can increase the risk of constipation and acid reflux.
Because of their effects on the brain, many addictive drugs can damage the neurological system. Long-term use can lead to seizures, an increased risk of stroke, poor impulse control, memory problems and other serious problems. Global damage is also common, and those who suffer long-term addiction can experience increased body temperature, appetite changes, mood swings and muscle pain.
Prescription Drug Use
Alcohol abuse is skyrocketing with more than 5 percent of adults in Minnesota abusing alcohol. About 10 percent of them are between the ages of 18 and 20, and 13 percent are between 20 and 24. The risk of both drug and alcohol abuse is highest for men and those without health insurance, and the risks decrease as education and income levels increase.
The CDC defines excessive, potentially problematic alcohol use as:
- Heavy drinking, or drinking more than eight drinks a week for women or 15 drinks a week for men
- Binge drinking, or drinking more than five drinks on a single occasion
- An inability to limit drinking
- Needing to increase alcohol use to achieve same feelings
- Unable to concentrate on anything but alcohol
- Drinking in spite of any personal or professional problems
Excess alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of accidents, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child maltreatment, liver cirrhosis, alcohol poisoning and social and relationship problems.
While the initial decision to use drugs or alcohol may be voluntary, long-term use can lead to dependence and addiction. Although addiction can be a complex issue with physical, mental, social and behavioral aspects, it can be treated with the right treatment and supportive care. The goal of a treatment program is to help the patient stop using the problem substance, live free of drugs and alcohol, and live a healthy, productive life.
Research has shown that a successful treatment program should follow several principles, including:
- A comprehensive approach that addresses not just the substance abuse but other patient needs, including other health or mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression
- Medical detox as well as testing for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS
- A treatment plan that is reviewed and modified regularly
- Counseling and behavioral therapies combined with medications
- Long-term follow-up care to reduce the risk of relapse
Nearly 7 percent of Minnesotans may benefit from a substance abuse treatment program. Up to 6 percent of them could benefit from treatment for alcohol abuse while more than 2 percent need treatment for drug abuse. Unfortunately, only one out of 10 of those who are struggling with addiction receive treatment in a given year.