Opioids are one of the leading causes of the rise in addiction and overdose rates in the United States over the past few years. California has experienced the impact of the opioid epidemic, and it’s even affected counties, like San Bernardino. Opioid detox is often the first step in treating opioid use problems. Learn more about the scope of opioid addiction in San Bernardino and how treatment can help address addiction in California.
Opioids are a class of drugs that bind with opioid receptors in your brain and body. Opioid receptors are designed to bind with endorphins, which is your body’s main chemical for regulating pain. Prescription-strength opioids are much more effective when it comes to treating moderate to severe pain than your natural endorphins, and they can stop pain from surgeries, injuries, and cancer in its tracks. Opioids have become a popular medication for the treatment of pain. Different types of opioids are sold under common brand names like OxyContin and Percocet.
However, opioids have a unique ability to create a feeling of intense euphoria, a sense of well-being, a feeling of warmth, and physical comfort. They interact with a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which is tied to pleasure and reward. Opioids can have powerful effects on the feel-good chemicals in your brain, especially dopamine. This causes them to have a high misuse liability, and many people use them as recreational substances. In addition to prescription opioids, illicit opioids, like heroin, are widely available all over the country. The high availability of opioids and their potential for misuse has led to an opioid crisis in San Bernardino and California.
Opioid Overdose Symptoms
Opioids can be dangerous when they’re taken in high doses. Opioids work to block pain signals, but they can also act as a sedative, slowing down some of the functions in your nervous system. People that are experiencing pain symptoms may be able to relax while taking opioids. But when these drugs are abused, they can cause dangerous symptoms. In high doses, opioids can start to slow down important, automatic functions of your nervous system, like your breathing. An opioid overdose can slow your breathing to the point of oxygen deprivation, coma, and death.
Prescription opioids are capable of causing a dangerous overdose when they’re used in high doses. Illicit opioids may be more likely to lead to an overdose because of their unpredictable nature. Black market drugs like heroin can vary in strength, making taking a dangerous dose accidentally a serious threat. The introduction of fentanyl into illicit drugs has also led to a spike in overdoses in the last few years. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can be deadly in doses as small as two milligrams.
Both illicit and prescription opioids can be more dangerous when they’re mixed with depressant medications or alcohol. The substances can mix to slow down your heart rate and breathing more easily.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioids can also cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you quit after becoming chemically dependent. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to the flu, causing an increase in body temperature, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you become addicted, you’ll also experience powerful cravings and compulsive behaviors centered around finding and using opioids again. Cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal can be significant barriers to sobriety and freedom from active addiction.
California has seen significant consequences from the opioid epidemic over the past decade. In 2019, there were 3,244 overdose deaths in the state and 11,767 emergency department visits related to opioid use. There were 17,576,679 prescriptions written in 2019 in the state. Overprescription has been implicated as a factor in the opioid crisis. Prescription opioid misuse can lead to the use of illicit opioids like heroin.
Prescriptions can be expensive and difficult to get after a period of opioid misuse. In many cases, opioid-dependent people switch to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to find. However, illicit drugs are also more dangerous because they’re unpredictable. It’s difficult to know how pure your heroin is, and it’s easy to mistakenly take a dose that’s too high. Plus, in recent years, the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl has been mixed into heroin supplies. Fentanyl can cause an overdose in tiny doses as small as two to three milligrams. In California, there were 1,603 deaths related to fentanyl in 2019.
In San Bernardino County, there was a rate of drug-related deaths at 12.9 deaths per 100,000, which is slightly lower than the state average at 13.7 in 2019. Around 133 deaths involved opioids. There were 580 emergency department visits in the county that were related to opioid overdoses. There were 218 hospitalizations that were caused by opioid overdose. County prescribers gave out 1,156,400 opioid prescriptions in 2019 alone.
Over a 10 year period, there was a 103% increase in opioid-related treatment admissions in San Bernardino County. In the same period, there was only an 18% increase in alcohol-related admissions. Despite this and the continued rise in overdose-related deaths, the rate of addiction treatment admission has fallen in recent years.
The county, state, and country have seen a significant increase in opioid addiction and overdose issues. Opioids can have a serious impact on a person’s individual help. Opioid use disorders are progressive, and they can take over multiple areas of a person’s life, including their health, relationships, and finances. However, opioid use problems can also impact public health. Opioid use disorders are associated with increased healthcare costs, law enforcement, and criminal justice costs, and other issues. They’re also linked to the rise in infectious diseases.
Increased access to treatment in innovations in addiction treatment is needed to address substance use problems in places like San Bernardino.
Opioid use disorders can come with many different consequences and co-occurring problems. Addiction is a complicated disease, and it requires complex treatment options to address it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective treatment will be tailored to your individual needs, and there is no single treatment plan that works for everyone. When you first enter a treatment program, you’ll meet with treatment professionals, including doctors and clinicians. You’ll go through an assessment process that considers your biological, psychological, and social needs.
When it comes to placing you in a level of care for your needs, your addiction treatment professionals will use the ASAM Criteria. These criteria are a set of six factors that are important to consider in treating addiction. These factors include:
- Your withdrawal potential
- Medical conditions and complications
- Psychological conditions and complications
- Readiness to change
- Relapse and continued use potential
- Living environment
If you have high-level needs that might make living on your own more difficult or dangerous, you may need higher levels of care. Withdrawal is a common cause for inpatient treatment and medical detox. Opioids aren’t usually dangerous during withdrawal, but the symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, dehydration, and intense drug cravings. In some cases, opioid detox is necessary to avoid relapse. Psychological issues and high relapse potential may also warrant inpatient treatment or residential services. As you progress in treatment, or if you don’t need high-level care, you may go through an outpatient program.
Outpatient treatment involves the full range of addiction treatment therapies but allows you to live at home while you’re going through your treatment services during the day. Outpatient treatment is split into three categories:
- Partial hospitalization (PHP). This is the highest level of care in outpatient treatment, and it involves 20 or more hours of treatment services each week. This is for people that are able to live independently but still need a lot of support throughout the week.
- Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP). IOP involves nine or more hours of addiction treatment services each week. It’s ideal for people who are still developing their relapse prevention and coping strategies or have other needs in dealing with addiction and other issues.
- Outpatient treatment. This involves fewer than nine hours of treatment services each week, and it’s ideal for people that have low-level needs. It can also act as an important transition between higher levels of care and complete independence.
Outpatient treatment isn’t right for everyone that needs addiction treatment. According to the ASAM Criteria, there are a few factors that outline the qualities of someone that could safely benefit from outpatient treatment. The first is that they shouldn’t have a high risk of continued drug use or withdrawal potential. If you’re likely to go through serious withdrawal symptoms and cravings that could make you continue using, you may need more monitoring and medical treatment than outpatient treatment can provide.
The same is true for people with high-level medical or psychological needs. Someone in outpatient treatment should be in stable condition and able to live on their own safely.