Drug task forces have been busy in Nevada this decade, that’s for sure. Drug overdoses in Nevada rose by 21.5% between 2015 and 2016. At the time, prescription opioids were the leading cause of death. 66% of drug-related deaths were caused by opioids. 

In 2020, the biggest problems are a rising meth supply from Mexico and a prescription drug problem. These days, prescription stimulants are more common than opioids. However, opioids are far from gone from Nevada streets.

But that’s not all. Other drugs that make an appearance in Nevada include cocaine and alcohol.

Ready for a closer look at substance abuse stats in Nevada? Here are the 5 top abused drugs and the latest on each one:

#1: Methamphetamine in Nevada

Like much of the West, Nevada has a big problem with meth. In fact, the number-1 drug seized by police is meth. That’s because Nevada is close to the Mexican border. That puts traffickers close to cheap, potent meth.

Fatal overdoses on meth aren’t common in Nevada despite how common the drug is. Most meth overdoses in the area are caused when meth is laced with fentanyl.

Together with psychostimulants, meth deaths rose by 23% in the year between 2015 and 2016. In Nevada, it’s easier to get meth than once-popular opioids. Still, that doesn’t make it a safer choice. Nevada had the worst increase in meth death rates in the entire country in 2018.

#2: Prescription Stimulants in Nevada

Prescription stimulants are on the rise in Nevada along with the rest of the nation. There was a 32% rise in stimulant overdose deaths between 2015 and 2016.

Some examples of prescription stimulants found in Nevada include:

  • Adderall
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Xanax

These drugs are either methylphenidate or amphetamine drugs. These are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of meth and cocaine when abused.

In 2020, stimulant prescriptions are on the rise for issues like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. As opioids become harder to get, people who abuse opioids in Nevada are turning to stimulants as an alternative.

#3: Prescription Opioids in Nevada

Did you know that Nevada has one of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions in the United States?

In a recent report, Nevada prescribed more Vicodin and Percocet than any state except one. It also ranks #4 for methadone and #7 for codeine prescriptions. 

Luckily, that rate has been decreasing lately. In 2017, the opioid prescription rate in Nevada was 73 per 100 people. That’s the lowest rate ever since Nevada started collecting this data.

Deaths from opioid overdoses are still a significant problem in Nevada. In 2017, the death rate was 8.7 per 100 people. 

#4: Heroin in Nevada

Prescription pills have a high cost on the Nevada black market. That leaves many people unable to get their fix once their prescription runs out.

Heroin is easier to find and cheaper than prescription pills in Nevada. While fewer people use heroin in Nevada than in years past, the drug still has a deadly impact.

94 people died from heroin overdoses in Nevada in 2017. That’s compared to 276 prescription painkiller overdoses and 66 synthetic opioid overdoses.

Why so many heroin overdoses when fewer people are using heroin than ever?

Most heroin overdose deaths in Nevada involve another drug. Heroin in Nevada is often cut with fentanyl. This is a deadly synthetic opioid that is 100 times as powerful as heroin. A small amount of tainted heroin can lead to a lethal overdose, especially if you don’t have a tolerance for fentanyl.

#5: Cocaine in Nevada

A 2016 survey found that 4.1% of young people had used cocaine in the last year. That puts the state in the top 60% for cocaine use nationally. 

It’s true that many states have a worse cocaine problem than Nevada does. However, cocaine’s presence in Nevada is strong compared to many street drugs.

In the 2014 to 2015 season, 1 in 10 young adults used cocaine in Nevada. Cocaine is a common street alternative when people can’t find stimulant pills.

The availability of prescription drugs is likely to decrease in Nevada. Doctors are held more accountable than they have been in the past. That could mean rising cocaine use in the future as more people are left without access to prescriptions.

#6: Alcohol in Nevada

Alcohol is legal in Nevada if you’re over 21 years old. However, alcohol abuse is common in the state.

In 2016, alcohol DUI deaths in Nevada declined by 11.4%. In Nevada, 1.8% of people say they’ve driven under the influence of alcohol. 

Underage alcohol abuse is a problem too. For instance:

  • 17% of teens report drinking before age 13
  • 26% of teens say they’ve drank alcohol in the last 30 days
  • 11% of teens have binge drank in the last 30 days
  • 41% of teens who drink say that someone gave the alcohol to them

Additionally, 5% of Nevada teens report driving while drinking.

Get Treatment for Drug Abuse in Nevada

Thinking about the ways drug abuse affects your life? Are you ready to make a change?

Call your local treatment center today to start your recovery journey! Our evidence-based treatment plans are here to support you through drug abuse recovery.


  1. Las Vegas Review Journal. (2018, March 31). Nevada’s death rate from meth, other stimulants highest in nation
  2. Las Vegas Sun. (2017, January 6). DUI deaths in Nevada down last year over 2015
  3. National Governors Association. (n.d.). State of Nevada plan to reduce prescription drug abuse
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, March 30). Nevada opioid summary
  5. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2016). State estimates of past-year cocaine abuse in young adults

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