Drug use in Scranton PA

My kids went to a lecture last night ran by a police officer. He told them that Scranton, PA had a bigger drug problem then anywhere else in the country.

I don’t quite buy that. Maybe he was just using that because that’s our nearest big city.

What’s the story ?


My father’s family is from the Scranton/Moosic/Wilkes-Barre area.

They all drank a lot.

As a non-significant sample, I would guess there’s not whole lot of other stuff to do for amusement there.

This is a DEA page that does state by state breakdowns:

Notice that they have a field office in Scranton, but say nothing about Scranton having a particularly bad problem. I vote for “blowing smoke”.
They seem to believe Philadelphia has Scranton beat, based on context.

If you’re ever visiting Scranton I’d recommend a stay at Lackawanna Station it’s a converted railway station, and a really neat hotel. Nice food there too. Oh yeah, and I don’t think Scranton has that a big a drug or crime problem.

If I lived in Scranton, I’d probaby do drugs. There is really nothing else to do.

Not only do I doubt that Scranton has the worst drug problems in the country, I know for a fact that it does not have the worst drug problems in the state.

As a former resident of eastern PA, I would have said that Reading, which has a smaller metro population, has far more drug-related crime. Sure enough, I was right; see:


And search for YTD crime data for 2001.

The Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton area, with about 650K population, had 1167 arrests for drug offenses of all types in 2001

Reading, with about 310K metro population, had 1431.

The uniform crime statistics do not break out the percentage of violent crimes that are drug-related, but based on the above I’d be extremely skeptical of the claim made by the police officer mentioned in the OP.

Scranton may be a problem area of another sort. It lies on I-81, one of the major drug distribution routes for the east coast. From Scranton, there are major highways extending into the midwest as well as NYC and Philadelphia.

Most of the internal interdiction efforts concentrate on I-95, but it’s I-81 that supports most of the mid-Atlantic’s trucking. I know for a fact that two college towns, Blacksburg and Radford, VA, were supplied the bulk of their marijuana by a weekly shipment delivered by 18-wheelers.

I grew up in Scranton. There was a lot of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, but no more, I imagine, than any other average town. I did note that there is both a bar and a church every few blocks.

There’s a hell of a lot more to do there than here in upstate New York. At least St. Patrick’s day is a huge event, as I recall.

I got married there. It is beautiful.