North Dakota’s illegal drug market is begging for a controlling faction. While no particular group holds dominion over the state’s growing inventory of illicit substances, the numerous criminal enterprises that distribute and produce drugs are all prone to violent gangland activity and other illegal behavior. For years the state’s largest drug problem was cocaine, however as of 2004, methamphetamine eclipsed all other drugs as the leading cause of ND drug and alcohol rehab. Though it recently fell to second place, crack and powder cocaine continues to be a problem in many of the state’s regions, particularly its major cities. Heroin does not currently pose that great of a threat, however it is available in some areas. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are primarily responsible for North Dakota’s internationally smuggled drug supply, however domestic production of marijuana and methamphetamine is also quite common. The state’s relatively unregulated frontier has led to an increase in substance abuse and addiction, as well as the need for more drug and alcohol rehab facilities in its cities and neighborhoods.
Though the illegal drug market in North Dakota may have fewer options for addicts and distributors than those of other states, drug rehab is still a necessity within the state. The amount of deaths and overdoses related to methamphetamine alone mandate a state-sponsored institutional approach to substance abuse. Other emerging drug threats are forcing personnel at existing drug rehab facilities to expand their knowledge of different types of chemical dependency. Most centers are safe and secure places to seek shelter and independence from addiction, and restore mental health.
The state’s major cities such as Fargo are seeing an increase in alcoholism across all age groups and backgrounds, however alcohol rehab is needed in other regions of the state as well. Professionals at most North Dakota alcohol rehab facilities are experienced and equipped to deal with the mental disorder that led patients’ alcohol abuse. They will provide expert psychological evaluation, and get to the root of the problem. Patients will also learn to develop resistance strategies to help them cope in a life after formal therapy, and become better prepared to say no to alcohol when it’s available to them.
Detoxification or “detox” is the first step to any rehabilitation program. It’s the process by which the patient can physically purge their system of the toxins that have built up due to prolonged substance abuse. The most important component of any detox is a quality staff to handle any medical emergencies and keep patients feeling as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. If a patient finds it too difficult to get through detox, they will most likely become discouraged toward subsequent rehab, and very quickly relapse. What’s more is that they will never again endeavor professional treatment.
Marijuana abuse is one of the most popular illegal drug activities in the state. Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the primary smugglers and controllers of marijuana headed to North Dakota through southern states, however recent data indicates the rise of domestic cultivation. Product is moved throughout the state via private and commercial ground transportation, and is controlled by criminal groups of varying ethnicities and backgrounds. North Dakota’s southeastern region is home to an abundance of hemp, which is nurtured and harvested into product by independent dealers. Canadian smugglers also take advantage of border proximity to smuggle in their version of high-purity inventory.
Cocaine was eclipsed by methamphetamine in the early 90’s as the stimulant of choice for North Dakota’s addicted population, and has since become a relatively manageable problem for enforcement officials and prevention advocates. Cocaine addiction has mostly been confined to Fargo the state’s other metropolitan areas, and is responsible for a comparatively small percentage of drug rehab admissions in the state. While a generally isolated problem, crack addiction and distribution has perpetuated waves of violence and criminality in some of North Dakota’s urban neighborhoods.
Much like cocaine, heroin addiction poses a relatively low threat to North Dakota's population. Heroin abuse and addiction has never been a major concern. The bulk of North Dakota’s heroin supply comes from Mexico and is known as “black tar” heroin. Heroin-related activity is confined almost exclusively to Fargo and other major cities. Local distribution and trafficking is not controlled by any single faction, as product is so scarce. Although heroin is not a popular illegal drug choice in the state, it’s still a dangerous one. Abusers are vulnerable to a rapid dependency, immense physical trauma, and even death.
Methamphetamine addiction is undoubtedly the prevailing illegal drug concern for citizens, law enforcement officials and prevention advocates alike. California and Washington-based Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the leading culprits of smuggling and distribution within the state, and have parlayed their inventory and connections into a lucrative and relatively unmonitored business. This problem is compounded by numerous local laboratories scattered throughout the state that produce limited runs of their own brand of methamphetamine. Law enforcement has significantly heightened their efforts to curb statewide methamphetamine addiction by severely restricting the sale of products that are used to make the drug. Recent seizures have yielded enormous wholesale amounts of the drug, and have coincided with the confiscation of firearms and laundered money.
Prescription addiction is far less frequent in North Dakota than in most states, if not all of them. The abuse of prescription medications such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet and Lortab is very rare and ranks lowest of all in the state’s illegal drug prevention priorities.
Recent data indicates the slow and gradual infiltration of club drugs into the state’s bars and nightclubs, as well as its colleges and universities. The term “club drugs” is used to encompass MDMA (molly), Ketamine, GHB, LSD, and PCP. It’s used to illustrate the drugs’ close association with nightclub and rave culture. Molly is the most popular club drug in North Dakota, and is responsible for an increasing number the state’s drug rehab admissions. Perhaps the most alarming statistic tied to club drug addiction is the young portion of the population that regularly succumbs to it.
Outside of a fierce methamphetamine epidemic and a budding club drug addiction situation, North Dakota has a relatively tight grip on its illegal drug threats. Heroin and cocaine are practically non-existent, and whatever incidents that are tied to them are usually dealt with using swift and proactive enforcement. It’s clear that the rehab facilities are doing the job for which they were intended, and curbing statewide addiction, one case at a time. Despite their relative stability and good standing in the eradication of illegal drugs, it would be foolish for North Dakota to relax its efforts.