California is known for its beautiful, sprawling beaches, clear waters, sunshine-filled days, and warm weather. It is a place where nearly 270 million people travel to every year to take in infamous sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, Yosemite National Park, and Disneyland. From afar, California can appear to be the land of dreams come true, but in reality, the people of this state are grappling with high rates of addiction as most other states in the nation are.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V) defines a drug or alcohol addiction as a substance use disorder, or SUD. A substance use disorder is a pattern of symptoms resulting from the use of a substance that you continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result. Today, more than 21 million Americans struggle with an addiction to mind-altering substances such as opioids, stimulants, dissociatives, hallucinogens, and illicit drugs. In the state of California alone, however, a whopping 8% of the population has a substance use disorder, which equals out to roughly 2.7 million people.
Most Abused Drugs in California
Certain places in the country are riddled with citizens primarily addicted to one type of drug. For example, West Virginia has incredibly high rates of opioid abuse and addiction that far surpass rates of any other type of drug abuse. In California, however, several mind-altering substances are abused at high rates. They include the following in consecutive order:
California is one of eleven states where marijuana is legal to use for recreational purposes. Similar to alcohol, though, just because marijuana is legal does not mean that it cannot cause problems in the lives of those that use it. In California, marijuana is the most widely abused drug by far, as California drug addiction statistics show that nearly 35% of the population reports consuming it. Marijuana is an addictive substance as any other drug is, however the repercussions of marijuana addiction are often less severe than the repercussions of a heroin or meth addiction. Outside of being legal, one of the primary reasons why marijuana is so widely abused in California is because of how it borders Mexico. Mexico has a long history of trafficking marijuana over the border and selling it in California. The availability of this drug makes it easy to obtain and abuse in the California area.
Opioid pain medications
Opioid pain medications like Percocet, OxyContin, Vicodin, and fentanyl are some of the most heavily abused drugs throughout the entire country, and California is not excluded. Approximately 8% of Californians abuse opioid pain medications. An addiction to opioid pain medications can get severe very quickly, as it can take only a matter of days for a dependence to develop. Abusing too many opioids or continuing use for a prolonged period of time can lead to an early death caused by an overdose or other physical health complication (such as respiratory failure).
Cocaine is an illicit drug that produces a stimulant effect. People who abuse this drug are drawn to it because of the rush of energy and enthusiasm it produces. Like many other parts of the country, certain areas of California are fast-paced, such as Hollywood and the surrounding areas. Trying to keep up with a pace of this speed can increase a person’s likelihood of turning to cocaine for that extra boost of energy. Like marijuana, cocaine is also heavily trafficked into the state from Mexico, making it readily available for use. Cocaine is the third most abused drug in California, with 7.2% of the population hooked on it.
California drug addiction statistics show that heroin takes the fourth spot for most abused drugs in the state. About 0.4% of people ages 18-25 are addicted to heroin, which can be purchased illegally from a dealer. Heroin is an opioid just as OxyContin and fentanyl are, therefore they produce the same effects. Because of this, many Californians find themselves turning to the use of heroin when their money runs out and they are unable to afford prescription opioids any longer.
Overdose and Death Rates in California
Riverside County drug addiction statistics show that in the state, the fatal drug overdose death rate is 12.8%, which is lower than the national average of roughly 14.5%. Opioids overdoses alone claim the lives of 5.8 people out of every 100,000 people. Additional California drug addiction statistics related to overdose and death rates include the following:
- Men are more likely than women to die from an overdose with 16.2% of men dying from drug overdose in comparison to 8.3% of women
- American Indians/Alaskan Natives suffer the most overdose deaths in the state, as 33% of all drug-related overdose deaths occur among this population
- Prescription opioids are responsible for 3.2 deaths per every 100,000 people in California, followed by heroin (1.4 deaths per every 100,000 people) and fentanyl (0.9% of deaths per every 100,000 people)
Despite these Riverside County drug addiction statistics, California is in much better shape than other states in relation to levels of drug addiction. Some of the reason for that is that there are many different addiction treatment facilities available throughout the state. Some states only have a few options for statewide care, but California has many. Additionally, there are several levels of programming in California, offering everything from detox services and residential treatment to outpatient programs and sober living homes. Despite California being an incredible source for treatment options, only about 12% of those who need addiction treatment actually obtain it.
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