Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

July 20, 2006 - Bangor Daily News (ME)

Study: Alcohol Most Abused Substance In Rural Areas

By Meg Haskell

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

A new report from the University of New Hampshire concludes that, despite a widely reported surge in the use of the illegal stimulant drug methamphetamine and the continued abuse of other drugs, alcohol remains the leading substance abuse problem in rural areas of the United States. The study has policy implications for the design and funding of rural treatment programs.

In Maine, where methamphetamine has yet to surface as a major problem, the abuse of prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Xanax and methadone is still on the rise, while heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances continue to make their way into the state. But according to treatment data from the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, alcohol abuse outstrips them all.

The new report, Substance Abuse in Rural and Small Town America (PDF Format), was released this week by the Carsey Institute for Families and Communities at UNH. Based on self-reported behaviors gathered in a 2003 national survey of rural and urban Americans ages 12 and older, the study reveals that problem drinking at all ages is far more common than other drug abuse in rural areas. The survey was conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Of those interviewed, nearly 17 percent of young adults between 18 and 25 years old living in rural areas reported a drinking problem, while fewer than 1 percent reported using methamphetamine or other stimulants.

Almost 7 percent of rural youngsters ages 12 to 17 and 5.6 percent of rural adults over 25 reported recent abuse or dependence on alcohol. Stimulant use in these groups was less than a quarter of 1 percent, according to the survey data.

Drinking among rural youth is worse in households where children spend time without parents present, the study shows. Among young adults in rural areas, males are nearly twice as likely to report a drinking problem as females, and unmarried adults are more likely to report a drinking problem than married adults.

"I would hope that a report like this would show that [alcohol abuse treatment] is where the money needs to be spent," said UNH researcher Karen VanGundy, author of the report. While methamphetamine is undoubtedly a scourge in some areas of the country, she said, alcohol treatment should be given high priority.

In Maine, data from the Office of Substance Abuse reveals that of 18,620 people admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in 2005, 12,211 or more than 65 percent, listed alcohol as the primary drug of abuse. Just 50 people sought help for dependence on methamphetamine. Addiction to heroin or morphine accounted for 1,054 admissions, methadone for 230 admissions and other opiates for 1,784 admissions. People seeking treatment for dependence on marijuana numbered 1,424.

Roy McKinney of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, said methamphetamine is present in Maine but has not become a major problem yet. In the past 12 months, he said, there have been 31 meth-related arrests in Maine, 23 of them in Aroostook County. Of those, 11 were related to the manufacture or sale of meth, eight were for possession and four were on other related charges. Other meth-related arrests were made in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties.

McKinney said there have been five methamphetamine laboratories found in Maine in the past year - two in Caribou and one each in Allagash, Lewiston and Auburn. Maine's recent enactment of a law that limits the purchase of the over-the-counter drug psuedephedrine, an ingredient in methamphetamine, has successfully dampened the activities of would-be manufacturers, he said, but methamphetamine is now being shipped into the state, primarily from dealers in southwestern states and Canada.

McKinney said there has been a recent increase in the use of cocaine in Maine and added that people who use that stimulant drug are often attracted to methamphetamine.

Despite the growing presence of methamphetamine, alcohol remains by far the most prevalent substance abuse problem in the state.

Pat Kimball, director of the Wellspring recovery programs in Bangor, said 59 percent of Wellspring's outpatient clients list alcohol as their primary drug, while 23 percent list opiates. Crack cocaine, marijuana and other drugs account for the remaining outpatient clients, she said. In Wellspring's residential programs, alcohol is the drug of choice for 56 percent of men and 25 percent of women.

"Clearly, alcohol is a major problem that can't be ignored," she said.

Kimball said funding for substance abuse and addiction treatment in Maine is spread so thin that many people have to wait to get into treatment while those with the most acute needs get priority. "It's run like a hospital emergency department," she said. "People who aren't 'ill enough' can't get treated."

The Carsey Institute report can be found online at

Additional information on substance abuse in Maine is available at

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact