Nearly 19 percent of Americans take drugs daily, but what about alcohol and nicotine?

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By ISABELLE CHAPMAN

Almost one in five Americans report nearly daily use of a mood-altering substance, according to a new study by Gallup. Out of the top ten states with the highest self-reported drug use, seven are below the Mason-Dixon line, and the study also found that those who report using drugs almost every day have a lower well-being index than those who say they "sometimes," "rarely" or "never" use mood-altering drugs or medications.

To find out where your state ranks in self-reported drug use, check out the gallery above.

The poll, conducted during 2014, asked subjects over the phone: "How often do you use drugs or medications, including prescription drugs, which affect your mood and help you relax -- almost every day, sometimes, rarely or never?" The question did not specify whether responders should include alcohol and nicotine in their answers or not.

West Virginia had the highest drug use according to the poll -- 28.1 percent of those questioned said they used drugs "almost every day," with Rhode Island in second with 25.9 percent and Kentucky in third at 24.5 percent.

A New Approach To The War On Drugs
A New Approach To The War On Drugs



These states contrast Alaska, which at 13.5 percent, has the lowest drug/medication use, according to the survey.

However, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Alaska has one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates in the nation with roughly 14 percent of the population claiming alcohol dependence or abuse, which according to another Gallup survey, is twice the national average.

These numbers don't phase Dan Witters, the research director of the Gallup-Healthways well-being index.

"Could people be underreporting? Yeah," Witters told AOL. "If we instructed respondents to include alcohol in nicotine we would see Americans using drugs at a higher level."

Witters went on to say that while the state percentages would increase if nicotine and alcohol were specifically included in the question, the results would also be less polarizing: "The bible belt -- that's where you see the lowest level of alcohol consumption and they have the highest number of self-reported drug use, and the same is true with plain and mountain states. Low self-reported drug use, but alcohol consumption is higher."

However, despite any issues that go along with self-reporting use of mood-altering medications, Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow and research coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute said the poll -- which was conducted over the course of 2014 with a random sample of over 176,000 adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia -- should not be ignored.

"This poll was conducted over a pretty long time frame -- an entire year -- and it's a very large sample," Bowman said. "We need to pay attention to this."

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