Nevada is usually known for one small corner of the state, its biggest city, Las Vegas. It’s a testament to how broadly this city’s impact is felt that it overshadows nearly everything else in the state. It’s not called “Sin City” for nothing. Legalized gambling (among other vices) has led to Las Vegas becoming a sort of “adult Disneyland” for whatever activities of dubious morality an American wants to engage in.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Nevada has almost double the national average of residents dying as a direct result of their drug use. While drug use rates in general are not too much higher than the rest of the country, residents of Nevada are much more likely to overdo it and actually die from using drugs.

Nevada Drug Facts and Statistics

Here is a full look at the Nevada drug problem.

  • Nevada is one of the top ten states for illegal drug use among teenagers 12 to 17 years old (for drugs other than marijuana.) It’s also one of the top ten states for teenagers abusing painkillers.
  • 9.7 percent of Nevada residents admit to using illegal drugs in the past month, while the national average is lower at only 8.82 percent of Americans in general.
  • The number of Nevada residents that die as a direct result of their drug use is far higher than the national average. In Nevada, 21 out of every 100,000 people die as a direct result of using drugs, whereas the national average 12.8 people per 100,000.

The Drug Problem in Nevada 

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducts annual surveys to determine what drugs Americans are using, and what regions have the highest amount of drug use per capita.  The survey asks questions about the use of specific drugs from marijuana to heroin and everything in between, and also further breaks down this data by age groups.

Here is a breakdown of what drugs are most commonly abused in Nevada:

  • Nevada has several categories of drug use that are increasing. For example, prescription painkillers have gone from being an almost nonexistent part of Nevada’s drug use problem to now accounting for 10 percent of all drug treatment admissions.
  • Heroin is used at far higher levels than in several other nearby states. Its usage is currently climbing, and is now accounts for 15 percent of all treatment admissions.
  • Marijuana has been steadily climbing in usage and in treatment rates. It now accounts for 30 percent of all treatment.
  • Cocaine and crack are declining in usage and in treatment admissions. They now account for less than all other drugs in the state, at less than 10 percent.
  • Meth is the most-used drug in Nevada. In 2005, it accounted for 50 percent of all drug rehab treatment, but it has now dropped to about 35 percent of all treatment.

When asked the question have you used an illicit drug in the past month, roughly 9% of Nevadans questions answered yes.  This is higher than the national average of 7.5%, which means drug use in Nevada is higher than in most other states.  For comparison states with the lowest drug use per capita, had only 5.5% of residents answer yes to the same question.

Specific areas where Nevada scored higher than average include: 

  • Illicit drug use in the past month among persons aged 26 and older
  • Illicit drug use other than marijuana in the past month among persons aged 26 and older
  • Cocaine use in past year for persons aged 12 to 17
  • Nonmedical use of pain relievers in past year among persons aged 12 and older
  • Nonmedical use of pain relievers in past year among persons aged 18 to 25
  • Nonmedical use of pain relievers in past year among persons aged 26 and older

In these categories Nevada is in the top ten of all states, and for example the number of residents over the age of 12 who had used prescription painkiller medications for nonmedical use was close to 7%.  While prescription drug abuse is a trend throughout the nation, residents in Nevada are consuming them at a concerning rate.  In 2006 Nevada led the nation in hydrocodone use per capita, and is still in the top five states for illicit pill use today.

Resources and Sources for Nevada Drug Treatment Nevada Drug Control Update –