Google — the Great Knower — is like a friend with whom you can share your deepest, darkest fears. It’s great, because it won’t ever judge you. (It will just remember what you typed for all time, and use that information to help giant companies sell you stuff.)
Google Trends, then, shows the big picture of all those searches. It takes all our individual queries and displays where the patterns are.
So you can see, for instance, whether people are talking about Ben Carson more than Donald Trump during a presidential debate.
It’s not a great measure for popularity, or whether a topic or person is well-liked, but it can gauge relative interest.
Withdrawal.net, a site that provides a directory of drug treatment facilities, last year built this GIF, which compiles Google search trends from 2004 to 2014.
It shows which states searched for certain drugs the most, like heroin, cocaine, Adderall — an attention deficit disorder drug — meth and Xanax, which is often used to treat anxiety.
Based on this map, cocaine was the most Googled drug in Maine for most of the 2000s.
You can see heroin rear its ugly head toward the end, though Adderall also shows up.
Since this is a year old, I ran a search for Google searches for heroin, which has become a huge public health issue this past year.
Here’s what that looks like: