California is a sprawling west coast state with several major coastal cities. It’s also connected to the Mexican border, which makes it vulnerable to international drug trafficking overland and by sea. Opioids like heroin, prescription opioids, and the synthetic drug fentanyl all contribute to high rates of overdose. Opioid use disorders can represent a problem for both individuals and the communities around them. For individuals, severe opioid addiction can lead to chronic health issues, financial instability, and social problems. For communities, it can represent a financial burden, and it can contribute to homelessness and crime rates. Learn more about the need for opioid treatment in California.
Opioids are a major source of substance use problems and overdose in the state of California. Over the past decade, opioid overdose rates have risen dramatically as prescription and illicit opioids become more available. California is one area of the country that’s been significantly affected by drugs. In 2018, 45 percent of California’s drug overdose deaths involved opioids, totaling 2,400 cases.
One of the leading causes of the recent spikes in overdose deaths in the U.S. is a synthetic opioid called fentanyl. Fentanyl and its analogs are powerful, and fentanyl itself can be deadly in doses as small as two milligrams. Fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 60 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Opioid overdose and addiction are a significant threat to public health in California. Opioid addiction can lead to chronic health problems, financial instability, and strained relationships. For communities, the opioid epidemic represents a financial burden. Access to opioid treatment can help alleviate some individual and community problems.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, opioids are highly available in several major cities in California. The synthetic opioid fentanyl is reported to have high availability in San Diego and Los Angeles, and it has increased in availability since 2017. While illicit opioids are increasingly available, prescription opioids can also be a problem when they’re overprescribed. California providers wrote 35.1 prescriptions for every 100 people. Though this is one of the lowest opioid prescribing rates in the county, the misuse of prescription opioids can still cause problems in California. Misusing prescription opioids is linked to later illicit opioid use.
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Both illicit and prescription opioids can be extremely addictive when they’re misused or used for too long. Opioid use disorders often require treatment to effectively address. Treatment involves a multidisciplinary process that addresses medical, psychological, and social needs that might be related to addiction. Treatment often starts with detox, which is a level of care that addresses the withdrawal phase that comes after you stop using opioids. Opioid withdrawal can cause flu-like symptoms, including sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting. Withdrawal can lead to dehydration in some cases, which can be dangerous.
Other levels of care include inpatient, intensive outpatient, and outpatient care. These levels of care may involve similar therapies, including individual and group sessions. However, as you progress in treatment, you will need to spend less time in treatment services each day.
American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
DEA. (2019). 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/documents/2020/01/30/2019-national-drug-threat-assessment
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, July 08). Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-opioids-heroin/prescription-opioid-use-risk-factor-heroin-use
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, April 30). California: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/california-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms