Drug abuse and addiction have long been at epidemic heights in Los Angeles.
Families have struggled for decades with the loss of loved ones due to drug overdose death, drug-related arrest, and mental health crises.
The rest of the country often looks to Los Angeles County when it comes to finding a workable and appropriate response to the problem. In LA, many families have come to find the treatment they need to heal.
Learn more about drug abuse and trends in Los Angeles, different popular drugs of choice in the area, and how you or a loved one can get the help you need and deserve in order to overcome the scourge of addiction.
With such easy access to all types of addictive substances, both legal and illegal, the consequences of drug use and abuse have hit Los Angeles County hard. High rates of drug sales, addiction, arrests, and deaths have continually placed the spotlight on the need for easier access to effective treatment options and redoubled efforts in prevention.
According to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, between 2008 and 2009, it was found that:
In recent years, though some details have changed, the problem with drug addiction, overdose, and arrest has been an ever-increasing struggle for Los Angeles County residents. According to the Los Angeles County Sentinel Community Site (SCS) Drug Use Patterns and Trends, put out by the National Drug Early Warning System, it was found that:
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Called the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) region, LA has long been a hub for drug cartels smuggling drugs up from South America out to the rest of the country and then bringing the cash from sales back down the same routes to get back across the border.
Los Angeles trafficking routes see vast amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana from South America, transported by Mexican drug cartels. The sprawling city is also home to clandestine indoor and outdoor marijuana growers who profit off California’s marijuana legalization outside of the taxation structure.
Many small-scale methamphetamine producers work overtime in the area. They add their wares to the increasing amounts of meth made in Mexico that come through the region.
One of the ways that drug use and abuse are tracked in Los Angeles is by keeping tabs on drug busts and investigations by local, state, and federal authorities. The types of drugs that are seized as well as the amounts are noted and tabulated to determine what primary problems must be addressed to make an impact on the drug epidemic. According to National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Sentinel Community Site Cross-Site Data Presentation: National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) 2016:
These four drugs — heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana — account for almost all of the biggest problems facing LA County due to drug use and abuse. From deaths to arrests to undue burden on taxpayers, the significant need for intensive and comprehensive treatment and support for Los Angeles families in crisis due to addiction has never been more evident.
One of the primary drugs of concern for law enforcement in Los Angeles is methamphetamine.
Though more drug overdose deaths are caused by heroin, especially heroin tainted with fentanyl, the greatest drug threat and the drug most commonly associated with violent and property crimes is methamphetamine, according to respondents to the National Drug Threat Assessment 2011 from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Additionally, methamphetamine was one of the drugs most frequently named as the drug of choice among those admitted to drug rehab programs in LA.
Toxicology reports by LA County medical examiners also show that the rates of death where methamphetamine was a factor, if not the primary cause, spiked between 2010, when use of the drug was at a low due to federal crackdown on meth labs, and 2015. In 2010, methamphetamine was found in just under 15 percent of decedents, but by 2015, the drug was found in about 28 percent of decedents.
Opioids were the cause of most prescription drug overdoses between 2010 and 2015.
However, according to Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner reports analyzed by the National Drug Early Warning System, detection of heroin in overdose victims dropped from more than 25 percent of cases to under 20 percent. Detection of narcotic analgesics almost doubled from about 12 percent of cases to about 23 percent of cases.
These numbers demonstrate that the opioid epidemic is just as critical in LA as it is in other parts of the country, with little to no indication of downward trends to come.
Though rates of admission to drug rehab based on the use of marijuana have dropped in Los Angeles in recent years, this likely has more to do with the changing perception of marijuana due to legalization rather than the effect that the increasingly potent versions of the substance has on users.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in Los Angeles in 2015:
The County of Los Angeles Public Health reports that by 2017:
The trends of marijuana use among young people in Los Angeles broadcasts the future of LA in terms of combating drug use and abuse.
Los Angeles officials have long been aware of the drug problem in the city. Though the primary drug responsible for high rates of addiction and overdose death may change over the years, the need for intervention, assistance, and treatment has always been a priority. With increasing rates of drug overdose death caused by heroin and fentanyl or combinations of different substances, many nonprofit, grassroots, and government agencies are working together to create positive change.
For example, to address the prescription drug problem when it was at its height in Los Angeles and across the country, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a report outlining the risks associated with prescription pills and recommended actions to respond to the problem. They suggested:
Los Angeles families do not have to wait for new laws or other broad community changes to help them if they have a loved one living with addiction. They can reach out for help for their loved one now and get the treatment they need.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from substance abuse and is ready to take first steps toward recovery and a better, sober tomorrow, California Highlands Addiction Treatment can help. We offer medical detox treatment with a seamless transition into ongoing care through to our post-treatment alumni program.
Call (866) 794-9171 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about which of our treatment programs is best for you or your loved one or contact us online for more information.
Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services. Los Angeles County Sentinel Community Site (SCS) Drug Use Patterns and Trends. Retrieved from https://chipts.ucla.edu/features/los-angeles-county-sentinel-community-site-scs-drug-use-patterns-and-trends-2018/
(November 2017) National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Sentinel Community Site Cross-Site Data Presentation: National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) 2016. Center for Substance Abuse Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://ndews.umd.edu/sites/ndews.umd.edu/files/crosssite-2016nflis-combined-final2.pdf
NIDA. National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/national-drug-early-warning-system-ndews
(2011) Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis 2011. U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/dmas/Los_Angeles_DMA-2011(U).pdf
(2011) National Drug Threat Assessment 2011. U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs44/44849/44849p.pdf
Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner. Retrieved from http://mec.lacounty.gov/
(2017) High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Los Angeles CA 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Results.aspx?LID=LO