There is an opioid epidemic in Los Angeles. Opioids were once a medical breakthrough to help alleviate pain and discomfort touted by pharmaceutical companies as being non-addictive. With doctors putting their faith in the drug companies, they started writing prescriptions for their patients. Now know opioids are addictive, with millions of people struggling with opioid addiction and hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths. In Los Angeles, drug addiction and abuse are nothing new.
However, thanks to education and training, how addicts are treated have changed. In the 1980s and 1990s, rather than helping people get the treatment they needed, they were arrested and jailed. Today, Los Angeles is taking a different approach by helping addicts get the treatment they need.
When Did the Opioid Epidemic Start in Los Angeles?
Initially doctors over-prescribed opioids to patients in Los Angeles and other cities throughout the United States. By the time doctors realized opioids were addictive, it was too late. Addiction had taken root.
As doctors attempted to wean people from opioids, it opened up new drug trafficking from Mexico and the growth of the illegal opioid market in Los Angeles. With its proximity to Mexico, it was not long before LA became a major drug trafficking hub for illegal opioids.
In addition, opioids become a gateway drug for people who can no longer obtain them. Instead, they turn to other illegal drugs to fuel their opioid addiction, such as heroin, because it is cheaper and more readily available.
Opioid Addiction Statistics in Los Angeles
According to the DRA (Drug Enforcement Agency), they identify several opioid overdose death hotspots in Los Angeles County in 2018, as follows:
- 5.7 deaths per 100,000 residents in West Los Angeles
- 6.0 deaths per 100,000 residents in the Los Angeles Metro region
- 6.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in the Antelope Valley region
In 2019, the California Department of Public Health reported the following statistics:
- 3,244 overdose deaths for any opioid
- 1,603 overdose deaths related to Fentanyl
- 11,767 emergency room visits associated with any opioid overdose
- 17,576,679 new prescriptions written for opioids
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health released some key trends in opioid abuse from data gathered through 2017, as follows:
- California had the 4th highest number of overdose deaths in the nation – 4,868.
- There were 464 accidental opioid-related deaths in LA County on average every year from 2011 through 2017.
- The individuals who died from overdoses died approximately 30 years prematurely.
- Emergency room visits increased 51% from 2006 to 2017 for opioid overdoses.
- Hospitalizations from opioid abuse rose 31% from 2006 to 2017.
- The prevalence of opioid abuse in Los Angeles County is 4.7% higher than the national average of 4.3%.
Despite evidence of an opioid epidemic in Los Angeles, doctors overprescribe Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and other opioid drugs. Further fueling the increase in opioid abuse, many users are turning to illegal opioids and synthetic opioids they can purchase off the streets. The epidemic is driven by both prescribed opioids and illegal opioids.
How Los Angeles is Addressing the City’s Opioid Epidemic
Los Angeles has developed education programs for law enforcement and first responders to realize opioid abuse and addiction is a disease. They receive education about using Narcan (naloxone) — a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses when administered in time.
Naloxone is now available to anyone who is at risk of opioid overdose. Furthermore, California has initiated syringe exchange programs to help reduce the risks of hepatitis and HIV. At the same time, programs help get users into clinics and rehab treatment programs in their area. While syringe exchange programs can seem controversial, initial data from the programs have shown an increase in admissions into drug rehab programs statewide.
Are You Struggling with Opioid Addiction and Want Help?
Struggling with opioid addiction could put you one step closer to accidental overdose and potentially death. If you want help and are ready to get it, do not hesitate to take the first steps by contacting us today.
Joining New Life House young adult recovery communities in Los Angeles provides you access to a safe, supportive, caring, healthy, happy, and sober environment, free from distractions and the temptation to abuse opioids.
Together, we help support young men and their families to help them achieve long-lasting success in recovery by providing access to high-quality structured sober living facilities in Los Angeles.