Southern states make up six of the top 10 states with highest use of mood-altering drugs, with West Virginia residents being most likely to report almost daily use of mood-altering drugs to help them relax. Alaska, Wyoming, and California were least likely to report near-daily use of mood-altering drugs.
For the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, at least 450 residents from each state were asked if they use drugs or medications, including prescription drugs, which affect their mood and help them relax “almost every day,” “sometimes,” or “never” from January to December 2014. Patient interpretation of the “affect your mood or help you relax” could include prescription drugs, recreational drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.
The top 10 states with highest drug/medication use were: West Virginia (28.1%), Rhode Island (25.9%), Kentucky (24.5%), Alabama (24.2%), Louisiana (22.9%), South Carolina (22.8%), Mississippi (22.3%), Missouri (22.2%), Indiana (22.1%), and Oregon (21.9%). States with the lowest drug/medication use included Alaska (13.5%), Wyoming (15.5%), and California (15.8%). Southern states overall had the highest rates for prescribing narcotic analgesics and for housing the most frequent cigarette smokers, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gallup-Healthways have found. Further analyses showed that Americans who use drugs that affect their mood almost every day have a slightly lower average Well-Being Index score (56.3) than those who use such drugs sometimes (58.9), rarely (61.2), or never (63.6).
Researchers conclude there is a clear link between lower well-being and the use of drugs to relax almost every day but the cause-and-effect is not clear. They propose that Americans who already have lower well-being are more likely to use drugs to relax or alter their mood in coping with various challenges (eg, low purpose, social, financial, physical or community well-being). States may be able to reduce these rates by addressing underlying well-being issues that may lead residents to depend on the mood-altering drugs.
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