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Does Puerto Rico Have a Drug Problem?

Does Puerto Rico Have a Drug Problem?

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, east of the Dominican Republic and West of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The island is small, at only 100 miles long, but is well-known to be a tropical vacation destination. Puerto Rico is famous for its colonial agriculture, live music, old San Juan, plus beaches. Regardless of the island’s favored sites and activities, Puerto Rico does have a drug problem. Unfortunately, the number of gangs and drug trafficking organizations has caused danger and paranoia among the people who live there and the tourists who visit.

The Drugs in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico does have a drug problem, and the most abused drugs include opiates, marijuana, and alcohol. Unfortunately, many do not seek marijuana or alcohol addiction treatment, and the island is sometimes referred to as “opioid Rico” due to the number of opiates and synthetic drugs sold and misused. According to data, the estimated number of addicts nearly surpasses 70,000, and almost $3 million is spent per day on illicit drugs.1 For a small island, these are insanely high and dangerous numbers.

Since there are many people who face opiate addiction, opiate (drugs produced naturally from the poppy plant) treatment often takes the form of Suboxone (buprenorphine) substitution treatment. There are multiple methadone clinics in Puerto Rico, but often, patients will become addicted to the opioid antagonist that attempts to cure them of the current addiction.

Puerto Rico Drug Trafficking

Dominican drug trafficking organizations (DTO) work hand in hand with Puerto Rico drug lords. Extensive transportation networks include the use of the Netherlands Antilles, other Dutch territories, and their home island of Hispaniola.2  Gangs in Puerto Rico help with distribution but are viewed as criminal groups rather than complete DTOs. Neta is the most violent gang in Puerto Rico, commonly involved in money laundering, drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.

The Department of Homeland Security is working hard to address current and emerging issues in the area. The effects of higher education and bringing awareness to addiction and health risks are significant needs for the island people. DHS works to establish outreach programs, target violent gang members for federal prosecution, and promote support for law enforcement.3

Our Banyan Drug Rehab Will Help You with Addiction

Not only does Puerto Rico have a drug problem, especially suffering opiate or opioid abuse, but America sees high overdose rates every year. If you or a loved one is seeking opiate addiction treatment, then our addiction treatment facilities can help you recover. We offer unique programs like cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR therapy, and pet therapy. We understand addiction is different for everyone, but there is always recovery if you seek professional care and desire to maintain sobriety to live a fulfilled life.


Contact a team member at Banyan Treatment Centers at 888-280-4763 and ask about a medically monitored detox program to get started today!




  1. Narconon - Puerto Rico Drug Addiction
  2. Justice - Drug Trafficking Organizations - Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
  3. DHS - Fact Sheet: Combating Crime in Puerto Rico



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Sober Curiosity and Ways to Achieve it

How Many People are Affected by Heroin

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.