Missouri Drug Rehab

In 2004 there were a total of 39,466 individuals admitted into some type of Missouri drug rehab program in the state. 19.5% of these admissions were for alcohol addiction alone. 4% of the admissions in Missouri in 2004 were for heroin addiction, 26.8% admissions were for marijuana addiction, and 16.9% of these admissions were for cocaine or crack addictions.

Missouri Drug Rehab Can Help

Many people believe that finding the “right” drug or alcohol addiction treatment program for them is an easy task. This is not the case. Finding the right drug or alcohol addiction treatment program is a difficult task because there are so many different types to choose from. In the state of Missouri there are people available who can help someone decide the best drug or alcohol addiction treatment program for them.

In Missouri, there are several different types of drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs available. There are programs available to help both adults and adolescents. Some drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs may or may not have their own detox programs. Some programs may concentrate on the recovery from just one drug. Other programs may focus on the recovery from multiple drugs. Missouri is also LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) friendly. Although these individuals are welcome at all facilities in Missouri, there are also some drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs just for these individuals. These programs are for those who may not feel comfortable at another program. Missouri also offers programs that are long-term, short-term, in-patient, and many more. Each individual should learn about each type of program before deciding on one to attend. This is a very important decision and the state of Missouri offers help for those who need help deciding which program would be best suited for them.


Missouri has long been an area of focus for United States drug enforcement authorities. Containing a number of major cities and easily accessed from several other drug distribution hubs, Missouri has developed a thriving drug trade and is also home to addicts of numerous illicit drugs. As methamphetamine continues to ravage rural portions of the state, heroin is making a comeback in St. Louis and Kansas City. Like much of the rest of the country, Missouri also displays rising rates of marijuana use and prescription drug abuse. Organized criminals, street gangs and methamphetamine manufacturers continue to feed the demand for drugs in Missouri and throughout the Midwest.

Missouri Drug Abuse Statistics


According to federal drug abuse statistics for 2013, Missouri adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 display lower rates of illicit drug use compared to adolescents nationwide. When asked if they had used illicit drugs within the past month, 9 percent admitted that they had used at least one. Among the drugs commonly abused by this age group in Missouri, marijuana and prescription pain medications are the most widespread. Amid recent media reports on the relative safety of marijuana, adolescent use of the drug is currently rising in Missouri. Methamphetamine, which is commonly abused by Missouri adults, is less common among adolescents, with the drug accounting for just 2 percent of Missouri substance abuse admissions for this age group. Heroin and cocaine, the least commonly abused drugs among Missouri adolescents, each account for just 1 percent of adolescent substance abuse admissions in the state.

Young Adults

Young adults are the heaviest users of illicit drugs in Missouri. In surveys, 20 percent of the state’s young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 admitted having used at least one illicit drug within the past month. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that drug abuse is also on the rise among young adults in Missouri. Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in this age group, with usage rates at 18 percent, which is the same as the national average. In addition, marijuana is the top cause of substance abuse treatment admissions in Missouri, making up 38 percent of the total. Methamphetamine ranks second on the list of drugs responsible for treatment admissions, comprising 12 percent of the total. Heroin takes the third spot on the list with 11 percent, and cocaine is fourth with 2 percent. Finally, 11 percent of substance abuse treatment admissions were for other drugs.

Older Adults

Older adults in Missouri, like those throughout the nation, are less likely to use drugs compared to adults in the region who are younger than 25 years old. After alcohol, this age group was most likely to attend substance abuse treatment for abuse of marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, in descending order of percentage. Notably, cocaine use has been declining in this age group. Of older adults attending Missouri substance abuse treatment programs in 2011,

  • 50 percent were Caucasian males.
  • 20 percent were Caucasian females.
  • 14 percent were African American males.
  • 5 percent were African American females.
  • 5 percent were individuals of other races.

Unfortunately, authorities estimate that about 55,000 older Missouri adults did not get the drug abuse treatment they needed in 2011.

Predictions for the Future

Missouri officials are cautiously optimistic about the success of regional addiction treatment efforts as substance abuse rates fall despite an increase in population. However, the prescription drug abuse problem in Missouri may be related to two significant factors. First, Missouri is the only state still lacking a program for monitoring prescription drug dispensation and use. Second, the state’s rural drug abusers commonly turn to prescription pain medications as easily available alternatives to heroin, which is often scarce outside of cities. Reducing this problem will require more resources and effort from the state to address criminal distribution networks as well as issues linked to drug abuse, including injuries, accidents and crime. Rates may also decrease if the state adopts a prescription drug monitoring program to prevent criminals from obtaining large quantities of scheduled medications.

Popular Drugs of Abuse in Missouri

Prescription Drugs

Missouri stands out for its failure to stamp out prescription drug abuse among state residents. Every other state in the country has instituted prescription drug monitoring programs that track these drugs from the time they are prescribed until they are dispensed at the pharmacy. With this safeguard absent in Missouri, addicts can easily obtain multiple prescriptions by visiting more than one doctor for real or fictitious health problems. As a result, doctors, pharmacists and police are left in the dark as they attempt to quell the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in all age groups. Without more action in this area, the situation may decline further from the present, in which Missouri has the seventh-highest overdose death rate out of all the states.


Heroin use has been increasing throughout Missouri in recent years, especially in the metropolitan areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. However, even suburban and rural areas have seen more heroin use as prescription drugs rise in price and are reformulated to prevent abuse. The drug is also becoming more common among groups that do not fit into cultural stereotypes of heroin users. For example, many young white female Missouri residents are beginning to use heroin more. Heroin is also being seen more often in suburban areas, making the drug available to adolescents who may be less familiar with its dangers. Still, Missouri statistics indicate that most first-time heroin users are at least 21 years old. Deaths connected to heroin use are continuing to climb, with 244 Missourians dying in 2011 compared to 69 Missourians in 2007.


Methamphetamine is a major problem in Missouri, which has been at the top of national rankings for methamphetamine busts for seven years. Although there is dispute about whether this figure represents a larger methamphetamine problem or simply more intensive enforcement efforts, there is no doubt that the drug has taken hold in the rural parts of the state. Methamphetamine is most common south of St. Louis, where the drug can be manufactured more easily because law enforcement and population is less dense. Although the state has taken steps to reduce access to the raw ingredients for the drug, illicit manufacturers have continued to source pseudoephedrine and other chemicals from addicts who trade raw materials for finished product.

Problems Caused by Drugs in Missouri

Financial Ramifications

Missouri continues to bear major financial burdens due to drug abuse by its residents. Annually, crime related to Missouri drug abuse is estimated to result in $47.7 million in property losses, and the financial cost to Missouri society is estimated to be about $7 billion. Each year, the state spends:

  • $1.3 billion on a multi-faceted approach
  • $3 million on methamphetamine lab clean-up
  • $32.4 million on prevention and treatment of substance abuse
  • $7.3 million to treat substance abuse disorders among prisoners

In the bigger picture, Missouri spends just $3 out of every $100 on prevention and treatment of drug abuse while it spends the other $97 on addressing criminal aspects of the problem.

Forest Damage

The Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri hosts a massive amount of illicit methamphetamine manufacturing each year. While national forests throughout the country are regularly targeted by marijuana growers and methamphetamine cooks, Mark Twain National Forest has experienced a virtual epidemic of the latter issue. Drug manufacturers commit their crimes in these rural areas to evade detection by authorities, and their unpredictable behavior when caught presents risks not only to law enforcement officials but also to Missouri citizens. People who visit the national forest for recreational camping, hiking and hunting may encounter cooks deep in the woods who are prepared to defend their activity violently and are unpredictable because of heavy methamphetamine use. In addition, these manufacturers commonly dump toxic chemicals into the ground and streams rather than risk detection by disposing of them safely. Solvents, battery acid and other chemicals can be corrosive, flammable and even explosive, harming wildlife and increasing risks of forest fires.

Gangs and Drug Distribution in Missouri

Methamphetamine Traffickers

Methamphetamine has often been manufactured by unsophisticated, independent cooks in rural locations, but it is increasingly being made by highly organized gangs who either make the drug locally or bring it to Missouri from other locations. Mexican drug traffickers, in particular, have been tied to methamphetamine of higher purity than what is often encountered in rural Missouri. According to experts, the success that Mexican drug traffickers have seen in this area is due to the decrease in local production resulting from successful law enforcement efforts. Today, these organizations deliver multikilogram quantities of methamphetamine to Missouri markets such as St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.

Cocaine Traffickers

Missouri, like other states, has higher rates of cocaine abuse and distribution in its urban areas. Crack, in particular, is commonly sold at the street level in the urban centers of St. Louis and Kansas City. In most cases, cocaine is converted to crack at the local level by African American gangs, who get the cocaine in powder form from Mexican drug traffickers. The positions of Kansas City and St. Louis relative to other midwestern cities also make these areas ideal regional distribution centers for powder cocaine and crack. In areas where these gangs operate, violent crimes are common as factions compete for territory.

Marijuana Traffickers

Marijuana is ubiquitous in urban and rural areas of Missouri and is distributed and sold at the local level by a variety of groups. Commercial-grade marijuana is among the most common and is often delivered to the region by Mexican drug traffickers. Canadian marijuana, which is often hydroponically grown and of higher potency, is also found in Missouri. High-grade marijuana is also being diverted from nearby states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use. Finally, indoor-grown marijuana is produced and sold at the local level throughout the state.

Traffickers of Other Drugs

Heroin, MDMA, LSD and prescription drugs are distributed throughout Missouri to a lesser degree than other drugs. St. Louis leads the state in availability of heroin, which is increasingly of the highly potent white variety and is distributed by Mexican drug traffickers and sold on the street by African American street gangs. MDMA and LSD are found sporadically in the urban parts of the state and are not associated with any particular trafficking group. Finally, prescription drugs are distributed primarily on an individual basis after diversion from pharmacies.

Current Gang Problems

Modern drug distribution in Missouri is controlled primarily by African American and Hispanic gangs at the street and intermediate distribution levels. In the case of African American gangs, sets originating in California have played a large role in this region. Crips and Bloods in St. Louis and Kansas City, for example, often retain ties to larger networks with access to distribution quantities of cocaine and marijuana. Mexican drug distributors are responsible for much of the wholesale drug distribution in St. Louis at present.

Growing Mexican Influence

Mexican drug traffickers have ramped up their influence in Missouri drug markets as more Mexican immigrants travel to the region in search of employment. For a variety of reasons, law enforcement has had difficulty controlling this growing problem. Mexican drug traffickers easily blend in with their law-abiding fellow immigrants, preventing law enforcement from being able to effectively target their enterprise. Because law enforcement is also commonly unable to communicate with these residents because of language barriers, especially in rural areas, effective investigations can be challenging or impossible to pursue successfully in certain locations. The Missouri cities of Monett and Joplin are two examples of Mexican drug trafficking strongholds that are flourishing around communities of Mexican immigrants, who commonly work at local meatpacking plants.

Key Missouri Urban Areas

Kansas City

The Kansas City metropolitan area has about 2 million residents and is located near the middle of the United States. With three of the most heavily traveled interstates in the country running through the area, Kansas City is a prime location for drug distributors carrying drugs and money between western, midwestern and eastern states.
While Kansas City itself has a thriving market for crack cocaine, residents at the rural edge of the metropolitan area are more likely to encounter methamphetamine.

Mexican drug traffickers commonly obtain powder cocaine from locations such as Phoenix and El Paso and bring it to Kansas City, where they deliver it to African American gangs who convert it to crack. Meanwhile, much of the methamphetamine in Kansas City comes from sophisticated Mexican manufacturers.

Kansas City is home to significant violent crime rates related to the local drug market. At the street level, African American gangs engage in shootings during disputes over territory. Hispanic gangs with national affiliations have also been known to clash with each other over drug distribution issues.

St. Louis

St. Louis has about 2.8 million residents in its metropolitan area, which is centered on the western side of the Mississippi River and includes cities and townships in Missouri and Illinois. Like Kansas City, St. Louis is located on multiple major interstates, making it a convenient distribution hub for drug traffickers.

Mexican drug traffickers bring drugs from the Southwest to St. Louis and deliver them throughout the Midwest. Inside of St. Louis, Mexican drug traffickers rely on local African American gangs for distribution. With connections to cites such as Chicago, New York City, Atlanta and Memphis, the traffickers are able to transport significant quantities of drugs between lucrative markets nationwide.

Local street-level drug sales are dominated by African American gangs, including Crips, Bloods and several local and regional groups. As demand for heroin has grown, local gangs have expanded their recruitment efforts among teenagers. This has resulted in a greater number of younger heroin dealers proportionate to the older ones normally associated with the drug.

Marijuana, crack and heroin are all common in St. Louis, but methamphetamine is rarely seen in the city. While black tar heroin has been increasingly replaced by highly pure white powder heroin, black tar has become more available again in recent years. Both types of heroin are usually sourced from Chicago, but black tar is also brought to St. Louis from California. Although methamphetamine demand is considered low in St. Louis, local stores provide sources of chemicals sought by methamphetamine manufacturers, who generally produce their drug in the rural areas south of the metropolitan area.

Missouri is faced with many of the same challenges presented to other states in the war on drugs, but it also has several regional issues to confront. These include the growing presence of Mexican drug traffickers, increasing availability and usage of heroin and lack of control over prescription drugs. With more government action and enhanced public awareness of the issues described here, Missouri can hopefully make more progress in the fight against drug distribution and abuse in the coming years.

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