As one of the largest states in the nation, California has the fifth-largest economy in the entire world. At its southern point, it shares a border with Mexico, which is one of the main entry points for illegal drugs to enter the U.S. There is also a large coastline with ports shipping to and from many countries, which leads to more importing of illegal drugs.
Substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs) are frequently part of conversations, but not frequently considered for a place in the health care system. Although they are still shrouded in stigma, SUDs are slowly beginning to be more widely understood to be chronic illnesses. And the healthcare system is also slowly beginning to identify, treat, and pay for them that way. A rehabilitation center in California can help provide resources necessary.
Substance use disorders are fairly common. About 8% of Californians met the test for SUD, which is around 3 million people. But only 10% of people with a SUD received any type of treatment. The California Health Care Almanac addressed this issue. It used recent data to provide an analysis of substance abuse in California.
The main findings of substance abuse in California were:
- Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is more predominant than other types of substance use disorders. Six percent of Californians met the criteria for alcohol dependence compared to 3% for illicit drugs.
- Substance use disorders were most predominant among young adults, age 18-25. SUD in that age group occurred at nearly twice the state’s average rate.
- Using alcohol and other drugs frequently begins in adolescence. By 11th grade, more than half of California students have used alcohol and almost 40% have used marijuana.
- Alcohol was responsible for more nonfatal emergency room visits than all other drug diagnoses combined.
- Heroin-related emergency department visits in California more than tripled between 2006 and 2017.
- California is beginning a major effort to expand and improve its SUD services in Medi-Cal through the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System pilot program.