The town ofSouth Kingstown, Rhode Island, is a relatively small town with just over 30,000 residents. The majority of the people in town are female, with the population breaking down to 52 percent women and 47.5 percent men. The average income is higher in South Kingstown compared to other places in Rhode Island, although the average age for residents of the town is younger than the state of Rhode Island as a whole.

While South Kingstown’s quality of life may be high for many of the residents, a demographic with a younger overall age means that more people living in the town are at risk for substance abuse and addiction. In the state of Rhode Island, people generally try drugs at a younger age, usually in high school, and they are at greater risk for maintaining these patterns into adulthood.

Drug Abuse and Treatment Options in South Kingstown, Rhode Island

South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and Substance Abuse Problems among the Young

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collected data on alcohol and drug abuse in Rhode Island for their 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer survey. They found that adolescents, ages 12-17, were more likely than their peers in the rest of the country to abuse drugs and alcohol, at 12.1 percent compared to 9.1 percent, respectively. That represents about 9,000 adolescents in the small state, many of whom live in South Kingstown, struggling with drug abuse problems, which can affect them later in life. About 3.4 percent of people living in Rhode Island over the age of 12 struggled with illicit drug abuse compared to 2.6 percent in the rest of the country.

In the state of Rhode Island, binge drinking rates are slightly higher than the national average – 17 percent compared to 16 percent, respectively. About 54,000 people under the age of 21 consume alcohol illicitly every year. Adolescents who begin drinking too much alcohol around age 15 or younger are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol or problematic drinking habits compared to those who do not drink underage. SAMHSA found that, between 2013 and 2014, over 19 percent of adolescents ages 12-20 in the state binge drank in the prior month; that was much higher than the national average of 14 percent.

Adults in the state struggle with problem drinking, too, potentially because so many are exposed to alcohol problems at a younger age. About 8.2 percent of people across the state struggle with heavy drinking compared to 6.7 percent nationally.

Residents of Rhode Island abuse marijuana more compared to their peers across the US. The National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2014 found that one in eight residents over the age of 12 years old in the small state abuses marijuana regularly.

In 2017, police in South Kingstown arrested several people linked to a drug-selling ring that brought cocaine into the area. The effort began with a months-long investigation helped by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Nationally, cocaine abuse rates are declining. In Rhode Island, however, cocaine abuse continues to be a problem. Information gathered by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that, in 2015 alone, about 4.8 percent of high school students had ever tried cocaine. In 2013, about 4.5 percent of high school students in Rhode Island had ever tried cocaine, which was similar to other states in the northeastern region.

Although adolescents in Rhode Island abuse many drugs at a higher rate than the national average, opioids appear to be on a declining trend. SAMHSA reported that per data from 2013 and 2014, 4.2 percent of adolescents in the state abused opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin; the national average was slightly higher at 4.7 percent.

Adolescents in Rhode Island, including South Kingstown, are more likely than their peers in other states to abuse other kinds of drugs, not just cocaine and marijuana. Per the YRBSS:

  • 7 percent of Rhode Island high schoolers abused inhalants at least once in 2009
  • 9 percent abused ecstasy at least once in 2009
  • 7 percent abused heroin in 2005 at least once
  • 3 percent abused methamphetamines in 2013, a decrease from previous years that topped 6 percent



Health assessment data from 2008 to 2010 found that 16 out of every 100,000 people in Rhode Island died from drug-related causes. These included accidental and intentional overdoses, many of which may be due to substance abuse problems. This was high compared to other New England states, like New Hampshire and Vermont.

Overdose death was the second leading cause of death in Rhode Island in 2012. The age range for overdose deaths in Rhode Island was large at 20-62 years old, and most of the deaths occurred on weekends, between Friday and Monday. Many of these overdoses involve alcohol combined with other drugs, which is a consistent problem among people who abuse drugs in social settings, like at parties. In 2014, Rhode Island reportedly ranked sixth in the nation for drug overdose deaths.

In the first three months of 2016, Rhode Island had 329 overdose deaths, and this represented a 25 percent increase from the same period the previous year. Lawmakers in the area believe the overdose deaths are largely due to an influx of fentanyl in the illicit drug supply, killing people who think they are abusing heroin or cocaine.

While the number of deaths is distressing, representing a serious public health crisis, rising overdose deaths are occurring all over the United States. Rhode Island, and South Kingstown as part of the state, mirrors the serious problem of substance abuse across the country.

Getting Treatment for Addiction in South Kingstown, RI

Another extensive treatment finder is maintained by Psychology Today. While South Kingstown is small, and therefore has few immediate treatment options, these options can be found via their treatment finder tool. The website Vitals also keeps a substantive database with many options for addiction help in South Kingstown, and other cities and states.

With a younger population in South Kingstown, there is an increased risk for adolescents and young adults to battle mental and behavioral health problems, including substance abuse, which can lead to suicide or thoughts of suicide. The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) issued a Youth Suicide Prevention Resource Guide, which offers a list of resources, including both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation options, all over Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Justice Commission released a report in 2007 that developed guidelines for working with juvenile offenders and included substance abuse and addiction resources.