Opioids are still a serious threat to public health all over the country, and in California. The opioid crisis has led to a steady increase in addiction and overdose rates in the state over the past decade. Opioids are notoriously addictive, and there are several barriers to treatment. One of the most significant barriers to treatment is the withdrawal phase of opioid cessation. Withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary part of opioid treatment for many people. Learn more about the need for opioid detox programs in California and how detox can help.
Southern California has several major coastal cities that see international imports. It’s also close to the Mexican border. That means it may be vulnerable to international drug trafficking from both Mexican cartels and Asian transnational criminal organizations. For that reason, illicit opioids are cheap and easy to buy. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles and San Francisco field divisions report high heroin-availability in those cities. The Los Angeles and San Diego field divisions also report high availability of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
In 2018, California had relatively low opioid prescribing rates at 35.1 prescriptions for every 100 people, which was well below the national average. Still, the overuse of prescription opioids can lead to dependence, and it’s been linked to later use of illicit opioids like heroin.
High opioid availability can lead to public health problems related to substance use issues. Access to opioid detox and treatment can help address these problems in Southern California communities.
Like much of the United States, opioid addiction and overdose remain high in the wake of the opioid epidemic. In 2018, there were 2,400 opioid overdoses, making up 45 percent of California’s overdose deaths overall. Many of those overdoses involved the synthetic drug fentanyl and its analogs. There was a 60 percent increase in synthetic opioid-related deaths between 2017 and 2018. Heroin-related deaths were also on the rise in 2018 to a total of 778. However, heroin is broken down and becomes morphine, so heroin-related deaths may be higher.
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Opioids aren’t known to be life-threatening during withdrawal. However, opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, enough to be a barrier to people who might otherwise want treatment. Opioid withdrawal is described as being like an intense case of the flu, with symptoms like nausea, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, the symptoms can cause dehydration. If you don’t have easy access to clean water, this complication can be life-threatening.
When you enter a treatment program, you’ll engage in an assessment process with medical professionals to determine if medical detox is necessary. If so, you’ll likely go through a five to ten day detox program. Detox involves medically managed treatment, and it may include medications to treat symptoms or to taper you off of the drug. It may also involve clinical therapies to help manage cravings and other issues related to addiction.
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