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2016 Drug Trends in Atlanta

2016 Drug Trends in Atlanta

The city of Atlanta is one of the most popular cities in the US. Known as the ‘Alpha City’ or ‘World City’, Atlanta is ranked 36th among the world’s best cities. The city has a thriving economy and has a gross domestic product larger than that of most developing nations at $270 billion dollars. Atlanta’s popularity as a city also makes it a prime high drug area.

Factors that make Atlanta a High Drug Zone

Tourism plays an important part in the city’s culture, being the 7th most visited city in the country, more than 35 million people visit the Alpha City every year. Despite efforts by local law enforcement agents, the city has one of the highest crime rates in the country, ranked as the 6th most dangerous by Forbes in 2012.

Club Drugs

There are more than 30 colleges and universities in the city, which translates to thousands of young adults looking to have a ‘good time’. This makes campus’ prime target markets for drugs. Campus drugs are most commonly found at parties. The most common drugs found at these parties are LSD, cocaine, meth, marijuana, and heroin.


The rate of cocaine use in Atlanta has been going down in previous years. The number of people who entered rehab seeking treatment for cocaine addiction decreased from 2010 to 2012. The rate in 2010 stood at 12.8%, in 2011 it stood at 10.8% and by 2012 had gone down to 10.5%. Even though the overall use of cocaine has been going down, there have been more people in the age bracket 25-34 seeking cocaine-related drug abuse treatment over the last ten years.

Poisonings due to cocaine and cocaine deaths have also reduced; this is according to the State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Georgia Poison Control Center. The National Forensic Laboratory Information System also reported a decrease in cocaine found in seized drugs brought in for analysis. The rate of cocaine in seized drugs was 34% in 2011 and went down by more than 10% to 22% in 2012.


The number of people who entered drug rehab looking to get treated for cannabis abuse went down by a fraction from 17% in 2011 to 16.3% in 2012. Hopefully, it means fewer people are using the drug. Public health specialists would hope so because marijuana is currently the leading illicit and most commonly used drug in the city.


Since 2010, the number of people being admitted to drug treatment centers for meth-related issues has been steadily increasing. The numbers were 5.2% in 2010, 5.7% in 2011 and 6.4% in 2012. This increase has been attributed in part to the rising drug cartels that have moved into the area, plus the influx of immigrants. The 2012 rate has been the highest the city has seen since 2006. Even though the rate of use has been on the rise, the number of people who have died from meth poisoning or meth overdose has actually decreased from 2011. Data from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System shows that the number of reports on meth from analyzing substances brought in from drug raids went up from 2,660 reports in 2011 to 3,399 reports in 2012.


Of all the drug treatments happening in Atlanta, 4.3% of them concern heroin. The most popular heroin in the city is Mexican heroin, according to ethnographic reports gathered from local drug users. The popularity of Mexican heroin is attributed to the recent influx of Mexican heroin into the region that’s a higher grade and purity. The 2011 Domestic Monitor Program made the observation that higher purity levels of Mexican heroin had made that particular strain the most sought-after type in the city.

Prescription Drugs

Oxycodone was the major culprit in 2012. It was the most widely used and abused prescription drug in Atlanta. In a more positive light however, the treatment admission rates for Atlanta do appear to be stabilizing after their rapid increase since 2007. In 2011 the rate stood at 2.8% and in 2012 the rate stood at 3.0%.

The number of people who have died from oxycodone overdose has also significantly gone down. This was evidenced by data from the state Medical Examiner’s Office. The most common benzodiazepine encountered in medical exams in Atlanta is Alprazolam. The number of people who were seeking Alprazolam treatment in 2011 and 2012 also showed signs of stabilization.

A prescription drug that is fast becoming troublesome is hydrocodone, which according to NFLIS reports has led to an increase in the number of people dying due to the drug. Drug reports for impounded hydrocodone also increased from 564 in 2011 to 641 in 2012.

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