Substance Abuse in Nevada
Nevada may be renowned for its nightlife, gambling, and the Hoover Dam, but the Sagebrush State has picked up a reputation for substance abuse over the years, as well. Being home to Las Vegas, the state may very well have boosted rates of drug and alcohol abuse that are fueled by the round-the-clock partying Sin City promotes. As a consequence, the high rate of substance abuse and addiction means treatment is in demand.
Drug Use Trends in Nevada
Among the 2,839,099 people living in Nevada in 2014, past-month use of illicit substances among Nevada residents doesn’t sound terribly high at 9.35 percent, but it’s higher than the 8.02 percent national average.1,2 The most popularly abused drugs in the state are stimulants, marijuana, and heroin, in that order.3 Comparably, marijuana was the most commonly abused drug among all Americans in 2012, with 18.9 million people reporting past-month use.4
The high rate of substance abuse in Nevada points toward their drug culture and demographic climate more than anything else. Trafficking practices run amuck in a state so closely bordering Mexico. Likewise, the area is densely populated with a few ethnic demographics known to struggle with higher rates of drug abuse than their counterparts.
Nationwide, 5.3 percent of America’s population was comprised of Asians in 2013, compared to 8.1 percent in Nevada, while Hispanic and Latino populations accounted for 27.5 percent of the state’s population, compared to just 17.7 percent of all of America’s population.5 While 43 percent of white teenagers and 45 percent of African American teens report abuse of illicit substances behaviors, 54 percent of Latino teens do.6 Among the latter, 47 percent abuse marijuana.7
Stimulants are one of the most commonly cited drugs among clients being admitted for substance abuse treatment in the state.8 These drugs are dangerous and often lead to cardiac arrest, which can be fatal. Compared to 12.7 people per 100,000 nationwide, Nevada carries the fourth highest rate of drug overdose deaths in all of the United States at 20.7 per 100,000 people.9Those attributed to prescription pain relievers alone accounted for 19.6 deaths per 100,000 lives in 2008.10
Alcoholism in the Sagebrush State
When it comes to alcohol abuse, about 25 percent of people who checked into Nevada rehabs in 2006 claimed alcohol as their only substance of abuse.11 Across the country that year, the same figure was 22 percent.12 Among Latino teen populations in the nation, 62 percent abuse alcohol.13 Unfortunately, it is often an episode of binge drinking that leads to alcohol poisoning in Nevada. From 2006-2010, an average of 943 people died every year as a result of alcohol abuse.14
Another popular Nevada city – Reno – ranks high on the list of the nation’s biggest alcohol consumers with 11.9 per 100,000 of its residents dying annually from liver disease linked to alcohol abuse.15 Among individuals living in the tourist destination, 16.8 percent are binge drinkers.16
Nevada Mental Health Services
Mental illness is another issue that weighs heavily on many who are dependent on drugs and alcohol. Co-occurring disorders are not uncommon in the substance-abusing population. One or more serious mental illnesses affect 37 percent of all people with alcoholism and 53 percent with drug dependencies.17
Around 89,000 adults and 28,000 kids are living with serious mental health disorders in Nevada.18 Often, drugs and alcohol become a way for individuals afflicted with mental illness to self-medicate the uncomfortable symptoms they’re trying to cope with.
Certain disorders can present with symptoms of impulsivity, and they can lead someone who abuses drugs to use in effort to escape obligations and responsibilities that make them feel overwhelmed. For example, people who suffer from bipolar disorder may experience periods of sleeplessness and the urge to compulsively shop, spend money, or binge on illicit substances. Sadly, many who are under-treated never receive the care they need to combat mental illness. Often, disorders go undiagnosed altogether and can seriously raise the risk of fatal outcomes. In 2006 alone, 486 people died as a result of suicide in Nevada.19
Some of the most common disorders that people who abuse drugs or alcohol struggle with include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
Another option for those suffering from opioid addiction is naloxone (Narcan). Having Narcan on hand can help prevent death from opioid overdose. We recommend that everyone takes the time to learn about how to find and use naloxone. If you, a family member, or someone you live with takes opioids as a prescription or abuses them recreationally, please consider accessing naloxone to keep with you in case of emergency.
The History of Nevada's Substance Use Struggle
On a given day in 2006, 7,248 people were being treated in Nevada rehab facilities and 93 percent of them were seeking outpatient care.35 Outpatient care was available at 91.1 percent of treatment centers in the state that year, while inpatient care was offered at 19 percent of them.36 Opioid treatment was accessible at nine rehab centers in 2006, and 56 doctors in the state were approved to render buprenorphine treatment. 37
Paying for treatment may come from private resources, insurance companies, grants, or federal and state aid. Government money was dispersed to 65 percent of Nevada’s treatment facilities in 2006.38
On the mental health spectrum, treatment options are far fewer in number. Only 20 percent of the state’s citizens who are battling serious mental health disorders are getting help for their issues.39
Of those who sought treatment in 2006 in Nevada, 6 percent were minors at the time.40 Despite that, the percentage of those minors who needed treatment for alcohol abuse and didn’t get it from 2009-2010 was 5 percent versus the nation at 4 percent. Those who needed illicit drug abuse treatment were aligned with national totals at 4 percent.41 This isn’t surprising given the rate at which individuals aged 12-17 abuse drugs in the state. Past-year misuse or abuse of prescription painkillers was reported by 8 percent of this demographic in Nevada between 2009 and 2010, compared to 6 percent nationwide.42
Where to Turn
Drug and alcohol abuse counselors may not be under the age of 21 in the state of Nevada and must be American citizens.43 In addition, they must possess an advanced degree in their field of study, and be educated and experienced in diagnosing mental health disorders.44 Among other requirements, counselors cannot be licensed before completing 2,000 hours of counseling under the supervision of another licensed counselor.45 Written and oral exams apply, as do fees for licensure.46
You may find the following resources to be helpful in pointing you toward quality treatment options:
- The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals
- Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health
- My Nevada County
- United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra
There is no shortage of help in the Sagebrush State. Medical detox programs, holistic treatment options, intensive therapy, and more await those in need. While Nevada may be home to many who battle substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness, it can also be a safe haven for those who have overcome these struggles.
Alcohol addiction rates are slightly higher in Nevada than they are in other parts of the country. For example, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 7.7 percent of people 12 and older were addicted to alcohol in Nevada in 2012. The national rate of alcohol addiction was 6.7 percent.
Nevada is not immune to illicit drug addictions either. In that same report, researchers said about 2.6 percent of people in Nevada 12 and older were addicted to illicit drugs.
There is a bright side to a high addiction rate. When communities are aware that addiction is a problem, they can take steps to ensure that the difficulties go away. And that means communities can invest in treatment programs that can help.
There are several addiction treatment programs in Nevada that are made just for people who struggle with drugs or alcohol.
Substance Abuse Help
Nevada has made a commitment to its residents—make recovery a priority for those suffering from addiction. There are many options available to help someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction get and stay sober. Many people have questions about how to get sober, costs associated with rehab, and ongoing support. We are here to help with those questions.
Paying for Treatment in Nevada
One of the first concerns when users are looking for a rehab is "what will it cost?". Rehab does not have to be expensive; in many cases, health insurance will cover some or all of the costs. Learn more about options for paying for rehab.
Using Insurance to Pay for Rehab in Nevada
Insurance covers some or most of the cost of substance abuse treatment. The Affordable Care Act made substance abuse treatment an “essential health benefit."
Anthem Health Insurance
Anthem has several different plans that can be applied to substance use disorder treatment.
Health Plan of Nevada (HPN)
HPN offers the same level of coverage for mental health services, such as substance use disorder treatment, as it does for primary care services.
Behavioral Healthcare Options (BHO)
Created in 1991 in support of substance abuse and mental health treatment, this is an employee assistance program (EAP).
Prominence Health Plan
Prominence Health Plan offers HMO services and PPO health plans that may cover addiction treatment services upon referral.
Southwest Treatment Guides
Southwest U.S. Addiction Treatment Resources
- Nevada Addiction Guide
- Southwest U.S. Addiction Guide
- How to Use Health Insurance for Rehab in Las Vegas