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South Dakota

South Dakota is located in the Midwest and is named after the Lakota and Sioux American Indian tribes. It is the 17th most extensive in terms of area and 5th least populous in the U.S. The state capitol of South Dakota is Pierre, and Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state with a population of 159,000. South Dakota is bordered by North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana and is bisected by the Missouri River. The eastern portion of the state, east of the river, is where the majority of the states residents reside. As of 2012, the total population in South Dakota was estimated to be at 833,354. About 85% of the population in the state is non-Hispanic White, 9% are American Indian or Alaskan Native, 1.2% is non-Hispanic Black or African American, and about 3% are Hispanic or Latino. The five largest ancestry groups are German, Norwegian, Irish, Native American and English.

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South Dakota Drug Use Trends

With a population of 853,175 residents (2014 census), the state of South Dakota is the fifth least densely populated state in the country. South Dakota is divided into two socially distinct halves by the Missouri River; residents refer to these areas as "East River" and "West River". The eastern part of the state is where the majority of residents reside and it has fertile soil that a variety of crops are gown. The area west of the Missouri River is predominantly ranching with defense spending and tourism being the largest contributor to the area's economy. Residents of South Dakota experience problems with alcohol and drug abuse similar to other areas of the country. While the state is one of the least populated of all the 50 states, in 2013 13,586 individuals enrolled in South Dakota drug rehab programs for problems with alcoholism and drug addiction.


In 2013, South Dakota was ranked as one of the top five states in alcohol consumption. The state's average alcohol consumption is 38% higher than the national average. The average for most states is 28.2 gallons per person over 21 years old, while in South Dakota the average is 38.9 gallons per person over 21 years of age. However, heavy alcohol consumption in South Dakota is not limited strictly to those over the age of 21. The state has a serious problem with underage drinking.

The South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 2013 provides statistics on underage drinking, car crashes, deaths and injuries. Between 2006 and 2014 alcohol related crashes for South Dakota residents ages 13-19 totaled 66 deaths and 864 injuries. In the survey, 64% of high school students in South Dakota reported having one or more alcoholic drinks in their lifetime. Binge drinking among South Dakota youth is a concern for parents and law enforcement, with 17.2% admitting to having five or more consecutive drinks in one sitting within the thirty days before the survey. Shockingly, the survey also revealed that 75% of South Dakota youth reside in alcohol permissive households. Many of these students noted that they had been heavily drinking alcohol since the ninth grade.

Alcohol abuse and addiction was the leading reason behind the majority of South Dakota drug rehab enrollments during 2013. 6,616 individuals entered alcohol and drug addiction treatment in South Dakota during 2013; 48.7% of all South Dakota drug rehab enrollments that year. Of this group of drug rehab enrollments, 75.8% were male and 24.2% were female. The largest age group to receive alcohol addiction treatment during 2013 in South Dakota was between the ages of 21-25 years old.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

Over consumption of alcohol affects the user's body in a number of ways including damage to the brain, heart and liver.

Brain: When a person drinks excessive amounts of alcohol it interferes with their brain's communication pathways. Alcohol abuse can actually change the way the user's brain looks and functions. The changes the experience from alcohol abuse and addiction cause disruptions to their mood and behavior. When a person has consumed alcohol it can make it more difficult for them to think clearly and move with coordination.

Heart: Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can damage the user's heart. Alcohol related heart problems include cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (an irregular heart beat), stroke and high blood pressure.

Liver: Many have heard that alcohol addiction can cause problems with the user's liver. When a person is a heavy drinker or struggles with alcohol addiction they are susceptible to: steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), fibrosis (excess deposition of fibrous tissue) and cirrhosis (a result of advanced liver disease characterized by replacement of liver tissue by fibrosis).

Pancreas: The pancreas produces toxic substances when a person abuses alcohol. This can lead to pancreatitis, a serious health problem causing inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels preventing proper digestion.

Immune System: Consuming alcohol has been shown to weaken the user's immune system making them more vulnerable to disease and infections.

Cancer: A person who regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol increases their chances of developing cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.

Recovering from Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Substances such as alcohol and drugs create pleasure in the user when they are consumed. The pleasure center of their brain is activated. Each time they use they are rewarded with a positive sensation that drives them to recreate that feeling over and over again. Ending the cycle of addiction is often difficult because the user becomes dependent on the substance to create a false sense of pleasure that they feel they are no longer able to generate naturally without using. While the addicted individual may find it near impossible to stop using and a lead a healthy, happy and productive life without substance use, it is possible.

South Dakota drug rehab programs are able to work with addicted residents in overcoming their alcohol and drug addiction problems and restore them to their former selves. This process takes time and doesn't happen overnight. Just as their downward spiral into addiction took place over months or years, recovery is a journey often filled with ups and downs along the way. With treatment at a long-term inpatient residential drug rehab the addicted individual can make great strides in achieving lasting sobriety and learn the life skills they need to maintain their substance-free state for the rest of their life.

During their time enrolled in a South Dakota long-term inpatient residential alcohol and drug rehab the addicted individual will go through supervised withdrawal, uncover and resolve the issues that drove them to substance abuse, gain the life skills they are deficient in to help them remain clean and sober, receive addiction counseling, develop relapse prevention tools and create a plan for their future after treatment is complete. Aftercare plays a significant role in maintaining sobriety. Successful drug rehab programs will include some form of aftercare in their exit plan for their graduates. This may be regular check-ins with staff, attending local meetings or support groups or encouraging their graduates to continue on to a sober living program.

Population in South Dakota:775,933
State Prison Population in South Dakota:3,095
Probation Population in South Dakota:5,372
Violent Crime Rate in South Dakota:
National Ranking:46
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in South Dakota:
Cocaine seizures in South Dakota:10.1 kgs.
Heroin seizures in South Dakota:0.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in South Dakota:18.7 kgs.
Marijuana seizures in South Dakota:143.7 kgs.
Hashish seizures in South Dakota:0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in South Dakota:0.0 kgs.
Meth Lab Incidents in South Dakota:7
(DEA, South Dakota, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in South Dakota:
  • Methamphetamine use continues to affect all areas of South Dakota.
  • Use of and demand for methamphetamine in South Dakota has continued to rise over the past year.
  • Methamphetamine has been brought to the attention of the public in South Dakota through an increasingly aware media, informed public officials from the local to national level, and concerned citizens. Public efforts are underway in South Dakota by law enforcement, politicians, social service agencies and the media to further educate the public to the dangers of methamphetamine use and abuse.
  • Marijuana is readily available in all areas of South Dakota, and continues to be the most abused drug in the state.
  • Also, the controversial issue of "hemp" remains a high profile topic in South Dakota.

  • Cocaine is obtainable throughout South Dakota and has increased in availability during the last year.
  • Kilogram amounts of cocaine transactions are rare in South Dakota. However, recent reports indicated that established groups had brought kilogram quantities of HCl to Sioux Falls which was then converted to crack cocaine.
  • Cocaine in South Dakota is obtained from individuals or organizations based in Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sioux City, Iowa.
  • An area of concern for cocaine in South Dakota is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Methamphetamine is a problem in the area, however cocaine remains the drug of choice in many areas on this reservation and is readily available.

  • Heroin is available in South Dakota only in personal use quantities.

  • Most of methamphetamine available in the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota appears to be distributed by long-time Caucasian residents and Mexican drug traffickers that are attempting to shield themselves from law enforcement detection within the area's growing Hispanic communities.
  • Hispanic immigrants are relocating to cities within Sioux Falls area of South Dakota, and are in search of employment in meat and poultry packing facilities in rural communities of the state. Mexican traffickers in South Dakota avoid law enforcement detection by blending in with these growing Hispanic communities. Mexican traffickers often use these meatpacking towns as transshipment hubs and secondary markets for drug distribution in South Dakota.
  • Pound quantities of methamphetamine have recently come to Sioux Falls area of South Dakota from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.
  • Methamphetamine continues to be a drug of choice in the Rapid City area of South Dakota and is increasingly available.
  • Methamphetamine traffickers in the Rapid City area of South Dakota are supplied substantially from sources in larger cities such as Denver, Colorado, and the southwestern United States.
  • Almost all methamphetamine seized in South Dakota is now "ice" methamphetamine, but purity levels frequently fall below 90% and usually range from 50-80%.
  • There were 7 meth lab incidents in South Dakota in 2007.

  • There is a limited availability of MDMA (Ecstasy) in South Dakota, but this appears to be increasing, as small amounts are found with other seized drugs.
  • Law enforcement in South Dakota reports limited availability of LSD.

  • Marijuana is easily available throughout South Dakota.
  • Multi-hundred pound amounts are transported into South Dakota from the southwest border, Colorado, California, and Washington.
  • Smaller amounts of marijuana are also shipped via express mail services or purchased from Hispanic males in the Sioux City area of South Dakota and driven back to Sioux Falls.
  • Higher purity marijuana is produced in indoor grow operations in the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota, which normally contain less than 100 plants.
  • Larger indoor marijuana grow operations in South Dakota are sometimes found in residences but usually number less than 100 plants.

  • OxyContin abuse is a growing problem throughout South Dakota, and has been found at methamphetamine laboratory sites.
  • Per the South Dakota Department of Health, hydrocodone products, codeine, and Darvocet-N are the most popular abused pharmaceutical substances in South Dakota.

  • Diversion of OxyContin and hydrocodone products is a problem throughout South Dakota.
  • Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals being reported in South Dakota are "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, and phony call-ins.
  • Alprazolam and lorazepam were also reported as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in South Dakota.

  • In 1995 a program was created known as the DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, or "MET". This was in response to the overwhelming problem of drugs and drug-related crimes across the nation. Since the inception of the program, there has been one MET deployment in the State of South Dakota, in Yankton Sioux.
  • There were 84 drug violation arrests in South Dakota in 2007.

  • Interstate 90 runs east and west through South Dakota and has become a main transportation route for drug trafficking organizations. There seems to be a consistent trend by Hispanic poly-drug traffickers based in the northwestern United States crossing South Dakota via I-90 en-route to metropolitan areas in the eastern United States and returning west using the same route to transport drug proceeds. It is anticipated that seizures along Interstate 90, both for narcotics and U.S. currency, will increase due to the frequent use by traffickers.

State Policy Offices : South Dakota

  • Governor's Office Office of the Governor
    500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3212
  • State Legislative Contact Legislative Research Council
    State Capitol Annex
    500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3251
  • State Drug Program Coordinator Special Assistant for Human Resources
    Office of the Governor
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3212

State Criminal Justice Offices : South Dakota

  • Attorney General's Office Office of the Attorney General
    State Capitol Building
    500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3215
  • Statistical Analysis Center Office of the Attorney General
    500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-6310
  • BJA Strategy Preparation Agency Office of Operations
    State Capitol Building
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3212
  • Judicial Agency Unified Judicial System of South Dakota
    State Capitol
    500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3474
  • Corrections Agency Department of Corrections
    Joe Foss Building
    523 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3478

State Health Offices : South Dakota

  • RADAR Network Agency Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse
    East Highway 34
    c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501-5070
    (605) 773-3123
  • HIV-Prevention Program Department of Health
    Communicable Disease
    523 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501
    (605) 773-3357
  • Drug and Alcohol Agency Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse
    East Highway 34
    c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue
    Pierre, SD 57501-5070
    (605) 773-3123
  • State Education Office : South Dakota State Coordinator for Drug-Free Schools
    State Department of Education
    700 Governors Drive
    Pierre, SD 57501-3182
    (605) 773-4670

South Dakota: Substance Abuse Trends & Statistics

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Behavioral Health Barometer:
South Dakota

South Dakota: Substance Abuse Resources

Drug Rehab South Dakota South Dakota Division of Behavioral Health

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