U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Impact of Drugs in Washington State

NCJ Number
Thea N. Mounts
Date Published
June 2009
59 pages
This report examines several means through which alcohol and substance use affects public health and criminal justice systems in Washington State, with a focus on identifying the differential geographic impact that drugs have on the State.
The study found that each type of drug examined has a different pattern of hospitalization, although southwest Washington counties were more heavily impacted by alcohol and drug use than other areas of the State. Hospitalization rates for alcohol, amphetamine, cannabis, and opiates were highest in these counties. Patterns of drug-crime arrests, Superior Court filings, and sentencing also suggest a greater influence in this area of the State, particularly for felony jail and prison sentencing. The findings point to the need for additional research in order to develop an explanation for the observed pattern of drug hospitalizations and crime. The current study theorizes that high unemployment and poor economic opportunities in the region may lead to higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse, although other areas of the State have similar economic conditions. An additional factor may be easier access for drug trafficking via Interstate 5. This study used data from the Comprehensive Hospital Abstract Reporting System in determining the prevalence rates and costs of hospitalizations that have drug-related diagnoses codes. 7 tables, 82 figures, 18 references, and appended data and methodology