There is an opioid epidemic in the United States.
Opioids were once a medical breakthrough to help alleviate pain and discomfort. Touted by pharmaceutical companies as being non-addictive, doctors put their faith in these companies and started writing prescriptions for their patients. Now doctors in the US know that opioids are addictive, with millions of Americans now struggling with opioid addiction and hundreds of thousands suffering overdose deaths. In Los Angeles, drug abuse is nothing new.
However, thanks to education and training, the approach to treating addicts has 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, when prescription opioids were developed and marketed to doctors as an effective pain killer, they were overly prescribed to patients in Los Angeles and other cities throughout the United States. By the time doctors realized opioids were addictive, it was too late. The opioid crisis was in full effect and we started seeing an uptick in drug overdoses as a result of opioid misuse.
As doctors attempted to wean people from opioids, it opened up new drug trafficking opportunities from Mexico which led to the growth of the illegal opioid market. With Los Angeles located so close to Mexico, it was not long before LA became a major drug trafficking hub providing easy access to illegal opioids.
Opioid Crisis Statistics in Los Angeles
Of the ~107,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, 67% were found to be a result of synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl.
According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), they identify several opioid overdose death hotspots in Los Angeles County in 2018:
- 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 opioid epidemic statistics:
- 3,244 opioid overdose deaths
- 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 throughout 2017:
- 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 drug 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 continue to overprescribe Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and other prescription opioid medications. Further fueling the increase in opioid abuse, many users turn to illegal opioids and synthetic opioids they can purchase off the streets. The epidemic is driven by both prescribed opioids and 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.
What Is Being Done in Los Angeles to Address the City’s Opioid Epidemic?
To address this opioid crisis, Los Angeles has developed educational programs for law enforcement and first responders to learn about opioid abuse and addiction as a disease. They are being taught how to use Narcan (naloxone), a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses when administered in time.
Naloxone has also been made available to the general public for anyone who is at risk or who has a family member at risk of overdosing on opioids. Furthermore, California has initiated syringe exchange programs to help reduce the risks of hepatitis and HIV.
At the same time, the programs help get abusers into clinics where they have access to rehab treatment programs in their area. While syringe exchange programs can seem controversial, as providing drug abusers with clean needles, initial data from the programs have shown an increase in admissions into drug rehab programs statewide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also implemented a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to monitor and curb the prescription of opioids and prescription opioid overdose deaths. It involves a statewide electronic database that tracks prescriptions of controlled substances so that authorities may intervene if any inappropriate prescribing behaviors are identified.
Are You Struggling with Opioid Addiction and Want Help?
Struggling with opioid addiction could put you one step closer to accidental overdose and potential death. Don’t become a number in this drug overdose epidemic, 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. We work in conjunction with Clear Recovery Center, an inpatient detox and outpatient treatment program. Detoxing from opioid addiction can be fatal when not supervised by a medical professional, consider a medical detox facility to help make the withdrawal process as safe and comfortable as possible. Call us today to learn about your treatment options.
New Life House and Clear Recovery Center curate a comprehensive treatment plan that can set a solid foundation upon which your recovery can grow. Our peer-based community not only supports one another, but also holds each other accountable for their recovery, and to strive for better lives. New Life House has been successful in helping people achieve long-term sobriety for over 35 years. Do not hesitate to reach out if you, or somebody that you know, is ready to take the first step.
Last Updated on February 2, 2023