Drug Abuse in California
It is not a coincidence that there are so many rehabilitation facilities in California. In addition to being the perfect climate for recovery, addiction is also the #1 cause of premature death in the state. Approximately 11 people die in California every day due to drug-related causes. 81% of arrests in Sacramento involve a person who tests positive for illegal drug use and 40,000 ER visits every year in California are drug-related. This is clearly an expensive problem for the west coast state, yet for every dollar spent on rehab, an average of $7 dollars is saved on benefits such as fewer medical costs, decreased crime and theft, increase employment, less money spent on housing inmates. Unfortunately, 85% of addicts still go untreated.
In order to get help for this 85% of people in California that suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, a number of things need to happen. For one, there needs to be more evidence-based education on the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. Second, drug and alcohol treatment needs to become more accessible to California residents. Third, there needs to be more regulation and training in regards to prescribing opioid pain killers.
Opioid Epidemic in California
According to the NIH, the rate of opioid prescriptions written in 2017 by California providers was 39.5 per 100 people. This sounds like a high number, and it is, but it is actually much lower than the national average of 58.7 prescriptions. Despite the fact that this number is low compared to the rest of the country, it is still quite high in general. The opioid epidemic is one that the whole country is fighting and there is still lots of work to be done.
Deaths related to prescription opioids did drop in 2017, but overall opioid-related deaths did not. Specifically, deaths related to heroin and synthetic opioids rose significantly. This rise is likely because people who were previously prescribed pain killers are switching to illicit opioids which are cheaper and more potent. These stronger, illegally-made drugs are also more dangerous. Most recently, fentanyl use had caused the greatest concern among drug abuse and overdoses in California and across the country.