11 Apr Top 10 California Drug Abuse Statistics
Despite what you may think, drug addiction is a problem for people in every community in the United States. From thriving urban areas to picturesque suburbs to tight-knit rural communities, people of all ages, genders, and cultures struggle with addiction. Even family background and socioeconomic status do not protect people from drug abuse.
The state of California is full of beauty and stories of success, but it is also home to citizens who are struggling with addiction. With more news reports about drug addiction and overdoses, it becomes clearer that drugs are a problem everywhere, even in places as idyllic as California.
However, knowledge is power in the fight against drug abuse. Here are the top 10 California drug abuse statistics to show you the current situation in the state.
Drug Abuse Is Prevalent in California
With 37,253,956 citizens, California is the most populous state in the United States. A large population means more opportunities for everything, including drug abuse. As such, California is home to an estimated three million people who are addicted to illegal drugs. Nearly 10% of the state’s population is suffering from the physical and mental consequences of drug abuse and addiction.
Due to a number of factors, which will be explored in more detail later, there are a variety of drugs available in the state of California. Some of the most popular drugs are heroin, prescription painkillers, and methamphetamines. Each of these substances is highly addictive, and they can cause physical, psychological, and financial problems for the drug user as well as the people around them.
Drug Abuse Causes Death and Medical Emergencies
When looking at the top five causes of premature death in the state of California, one stands out: Drug abuse. In 2012, drug abuse took 11 lives each day, making it the number one premature killer in the state. This means that drug abuse kills more people in California than car accidents, suicides, homicides, and accidents with firearms.
On the list of causes of premature death in California, car accidents came in second place. As it turns out, many of these car accidents were caused by drug abuse. In fact, three out of 10 fatal car accidents involved drivers who were using illegal drugs at the time. It’s common knowledge that drugs and other substances like alcohol can impair a driver’s functioning and decrease their reaction time, so it makes sense that illegal drugs cause so many fatal accidents.
In addition to the deaths caused by drug abuse, there are many people who experience medical emergencies due to drug use. It is estimated that 40,000 emergency room visits each year in California are caused by drug abuse. The reasons for hospitalization vary from drug overdoses to injuries that occurred while the person’s mind was in an altered state.
Drug Abuse Leads to Trouble with the Law
Although not every person who uses drugs will be arrested, many people who are arrested do test positive for drugs. In Sacramento, 81% of people who were arrested tested positive for illegal drugs.
There is a reason why so many people have drugs in their system when they are arrested. Illegal drugs alter a person’s mind, which makes it more likely that they will do and say things that they wouldn’t ordinarily consider doing or saying. Additionally, drug addiction can drive some people to do desperate – and illegal – things in order to acquire more of the substance their body is craving.
Southern California is a Hotspot for Drug Addiction
Southern California has a long history of drug abuse and addiction, due to its high volume of traffic in and out of the area, its close proximity to Mexico, and its robust transportation system.
Millions of people come to Southern California to take advantage of everything the area has to offer, including beautiful scenery, well-known universities, and diverse industries. This high volume of traffic coming in and out of SoCal tends to bring in illegal drugs.
Southern California is also very close to the Mexican border, which is a prime location for drug dealers and smugglers to buy and sell illegal substances. Extensive transportation facilities, including airports and an interstate system, are the final pieces of the puzzle that makes Southern California the ideal place to distribute drugs throughout the state and across the country.
This combination of factors creates a perfect storm that results in increased levels of drug use and activity in SoCal. Additionally, since Southern California does not exist in a bubble, this drug activity extends into other parts of the state.
The Use of Heroin Is Increasing in California
Heroin is an opioid drug that comes from morphine. People who use the drug inject it, smoke it, or snort it in order to get a high. When consumed, heroin enters the brain and transforms back into morphine. From there, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, causing a rush of euphoria. In addition to the rush, people who use heroin experience less than desirable effects, including clouded mental function, flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and potentially serious health complications like an overdose.
In the past, heroin was considered an urban drug problem, but it has since expanded to the suburbs. The face of heroin abuse has also changed from minorities to white. In addition to these changes, the entire country, including the state of California, is experiencing a surge in heroin use.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2002 and 2013, heroin use increased 63% and heroin overdose deaths increased almost fourfold. Additionally, it is estimated that 517,000 people used heroin at least once in 2013, which is a 150% increase from six years earlier in 2007.
In some areas of California, heroin overdose deaths have leveled off, but some citizens are still losing their lives to the drug. In Los Angeles County alone, there were 225 heroin deaths in 2010. In 2012, this number dropped to 29, before rising to 46 in 2013.
Abuse of Prescription Painkillers is a Problem in California
Heroin isn’t the only drug that’s causing a problem in California. Prescription drug abuse is more prevalent now in both the state of California and around the United States. In 2014, drug overdoses became the number one cause of death, with more than 47,000 Americans dying from an overdose. Half of these deaths were caused by heroin or prescription painkillers.
As more doctors around the country prescribe medications for pain, the number of people abusing these drugs increases. While there are many legitimate uses for prescription painkillers, these medications have the potential to be addictive.
What starts as a way to dull or eliminate physical pain after a surgery or an injury can turn into a craving for the high that the pills produce. The appeal of abusing prescription pain medications is so high that these drugs are now the most commonly abused substance by Americans over the age of 14.
While most doctors are very responsible about prescribing pain medications, a study performed by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that most opioid painkillers aren’t being prescribed by family doctors and general practitioners. Some less than scrupulous physicians run pain clinics purely for financial gain. In fact, there have been reports recently of doctors who are being charged for falsifying medical records and over-prescribing painkillers in order to make a profit.
California Is Facing a Methamphetamine Epidemic
While heroin and prescription painkillers have been a major topic of discussion around the country, methamphetamines are also causing serious issues in California and around the United States. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that comes in the form of a white powder or a pill. There is also a form known as crystal meth that looks like pieces of glass. People who use methamphetamines take it by smoking it, swallowing it in pill form, snorting it, or injecting the dissolved powder into their body.
The drug produces a high that appears and disappears very quickly, which encourages people to keep taking the drug during binge sessions. Some people will even give up sleep and food in order to achieve the euphoria that is caused by the release of high levels of dopamine. Like other drugs, methamphetamines can cause health problems, including overdose and increased heartbeat, respiration, and temperature.
In recent years, Mexican drug cartels have been increasing the production and distribution of the methamphetamines. This increase is very clear when looking at the news. Seizures of methamphetamine at the border between Mexico and California as well as at the San Diego airport quadrupled between 2009 and 2014, jumping from 3,693 to 14,732 pounds. With the increased availability of the drug, more people are becoming addicted to it.
Most People Don’t Seek Treatment for Drug Addiction
Although inpatient drug rehab treatment is very effective for most people with a drug problem, 85% of people who are struggling with a drug addiction will not receive the treatment they need. There are a variety of reasons for this statistic.
- Denial and Shame: Some people may be in denial about their drug addiction. It’s not easy to face the fact that you have a problem, and this is especially difficult when the problem is surrounded by stigma and shame.
- Fear of Withdrawal Symptoms: Withdrawal occurs when a person detoxifies from drugs or alcohol, and the symptoms can be very unpleasant. Some individuals may fear these symptoms and decide to keep using drugs in order to avoid experiencing them.
- Lack of Access: Some people may not have access to a treatment facility due to their location, financial situation, or lack of insurance.
- Doubting the Effectiveness of Treatment: There are some people who think that treatment won’t work for them. However, this belief is incorrect, as the next section shows.
Treatment for Drug Addiction Works
With the right drug treatment program, patients can overcome drug addiction. The most successful treatment will involve multiple steps, including detoxification (detox), behavioral counseling, medications, diagnosis and treatment of coexisting mental health conditions, and long-term support and care to prevent the patient from relapsing.
Not only can detox and treatment help a person achieve long-term sobriety, they can also produce substantial cost savings for society. For every dollar spent on rehabilitating someone with a drug addiction, there is an average savings of $7.
This savings comes from fewer medical costs, a decrease in crime and theft, an increase in employment and productivity, and a decrease in the amount of money spent to house inmates who have been imprisoned for drug offenses.
Clearly, treatment for substance abuse is effective and beneficial for both the patient and society. The patient gets their life and their health back, while society gains another productive member. It’s a win-win situation.
HARP Can Treat Drug Addiction
HARP Treatment Center has one goal: To help patients detox and recover from drug and alcohol addiction in a setting that is as comfortable and safe as possible. With holistic therapies that are tailored to each patient and outdoor recreation to make the stay enjoyable, we treat every aspect of a patient’s life and well-being.
Starting with 24-hour medical monitoring during detox and continuing with treating the root causes of addiction, our knowledgeable and compassionate staff helps patients start their journey to sobriety on the right foot.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to find the right detox and treatment center to help break the cycle of addiction. HARP is comprised of a team of experienced and caring professionals who can assist with medical detox and provide the tools to help restore mental and physical health and achieve lasting sobriety. Please contact us today to learn more.