McIntosh County is rather centrally located in the state of Oklahoma, with the town of Eufaula serving as its county seat. It has a land area of approximately 618 square miles, and nearly 94 square miles of water. Its population is just over 20,000 people, and the county growth-rate remains lower than the Oklahoma state average. It has a rich history, being created in 1907 at the time of statehood from land which was primarily a part of the Creek Indian Nation, and its eastern-most areas a part of the extreme southwestern lands of the Cherokee Nation. The towns and cities of McIntosh County include Eufaula, Checotah, Hanna, Duchess Landing, Rentiesville, Hitchita, Texanna, Stidham and Shady Grove.
Poverty and Crime in McIntosh County
USA.com reports that based on median household income, 6 of the poorest cities in Oklahoma are in McIntosh County. Those same cities rank in the top 60 of the poorest cities state-wide. (2010 Census Data) They include the following cities and ranking:
- Rentiesville, OK
It ranks 17th poorest in the state, with a median household income of $14,531. Its population is around 85.
- Hanna, OK
It ranks 21st poorest in the state, with a median household income of $16,250. It has a population of approximately 83.
- Duchess Landing, OK
It ranks 34th poorest in the state, with a median household income of $18,571. Its population is reported as 132.
- Stidham, OK and Hitchita, OK
Both these cities share the rank of being 37th poorest in the state, with a median household income of $18, 750. Stidham’s population is 17, and Hitchita’s is 188.
- Shady Grove, OK
It ranks the 60th poorest in the state, with a median household income of $20, 875. Shady Grove has a population of 99.
Also worthy of note is the fact of crime. According to USA.com, and based on 2010 Census Data, the city of Eufaula, the county seat of McIntosh County, ranks 31st in the state of Oklahoma for worst cities by crime rate, with a crime index of 2,003 (an indicator of the crime level in a region), and a population of 2, 813. As a point of comparison, the city which ranks 1st in the state for the worst crime rate is Tulsa, OK with a crime index of 3, 681 and a population of 391,906.
Poverty and Drug Use Nationwide
In a 2010 report (The NSDUH Report 2010) by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and based on data from 2006 through 2008, there is a relationship between drug use and poverty. It seems to be a door which swings both ways, with poverty itself engendering drug use, while drug use itself engenders poverty.
According to the report, there are 3.7 million persons in the United States, aged 12 or older, living in poverty and needing substance use treatment. It was also reported that males living in poverty were almost twice as likely to be in need of substance abuse treatment as were females, based on past year data. And among those who were living in poverty, individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 years demonstrated the highest rate of treatment need, based on past year data. It was also found this age group received the lowest rate of treatment help.
The State of the County
The Spring 2014 State of the County Health Report issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, presents a comprehensive overview of health in McIntosh County, with statistics on such health issues as the leading causes of death, nutrition and obesity, physical activity and fitness, diabetes, teen births, infant mortality, and injury and violence.
The document also reviews the issues of tobacco use prevention, health care costs, health education, the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan, and a list of health-related references along with contact information.
According to the report, the state of Oklahoma historically ranks poorly in many of the key health indicators and notes a majority of those stem from “conditions that Oklahomans live with every day”, including poverty as well as limited access to health care.
Oklahoma, at the same time, has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the nation.
It doesn’t take a far stretch of the imagination to see how these factors, the poverty and the hopelessness it could give rise to; the not feeling vibrant and well due to a poor or inadequate diet or chronic illness; the threat of violence or injury stemming from the environment in which one lives; and the despair of being a teenaged parent lacking the wherewithal to create a better future for oneself and one’s child could quite easily lead to drug use and abuse in an attempt to escape it all.