Country vs. City Addictions: Are They Different?

Urban and rural addicts don’t seem to have a whole lot in common, according to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

In gathering data for this particular study, researchers looked at addiction from multiple geographic locations and points of view. They compared drug habits, drugs of choice, personal characteristics, and treatment options in both city and rural settings.

When the data was evaluated, it was clear that urban addicts and rural addicts don’t have much in common. For those who believe all addictions are alike, the SAMHSA report proves otherwise.

Here are some of the fascinating statistics in the study:

Addiction Treatment Admissions
Rural rehab admissions were more likely than urban admissions to be court-ordered (51.6 versus 28.4 percent). Rural addiction treatment admissions were also less likely to enter treatment voluntarily or upon the referral of a family member or friend (22.8 percent versus 38.7 percent).

Urban addicts were more likely to enter a treatment program voluntarily or under the pressure of family members.

Substances of Abuse
Around 21.8 percent of city addicts say heroin is their drug of choice (vs. 3.1 percent in the country), while 11.9 percent claim cocaine as a drug of choice (vs. 5.6 percent rural).Rural addicts began using drugs at a younger age (between 15 and 17 years) and abused their drugs of choice intermittently. They abuse alcohol at a much higher rate than their city counterparts (49.5 percent versus 36.1 percent). Rural dwellers were also more likely to seek out treatment for prescription painkillers and stimulants.

Urban addicts, however, primary abuse traditional street drugs like heroin and cocaine. Around 21.8 percent of city addicts say heroin is their drug of choice (vs. 3.1 percent in the country), while 11.9 percent claim cocaine as a drug of choice (vs. 5.6 percent rural).

Differences were also seen in the demographics of urban and rural rehab admissions. More than 77 percent of the patients in rural facilities were of non-Hispanic and white origins. They also possessed more education and a higher employment rate.
By contrast, urban drug users were ethnically diverse, had lower levels of education and lower rates of employment.

A decade ago, rural areas served as a kind of sanctuary from widespread city drug abuse. Today, rural areas are seeing a flood of drug-related activities and abuse. Though urban areas still see a larger portion of drug abuse, city dwellers aren’t at a higher risk of developing an addiction. In fact, since the disease of addiction is not location-specific, rural and urban citizens are equally susceptible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, take action today. Our toll-free helpline can connect you to the best addiction treatment centers to fit your needs. We’re available around the clock at 1-888-744-0069 .

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The editorial staff of is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers . Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
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