Los Angeles County Substance Abuse Trends

tc los angeles county substance abuse trends

Substance Abuse In LA County

While drug use has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years in Los Angeles County, overdose deaths are rising, particularly for prescription opioids such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Fentanyl. This has taken a particular toll on adolescents between 15 and 18 years old. 

According to a study by the Journal Of The American Medical Association for adolescents across the United states, “Deaths increased to 954 (4.57 per 100 000) in 2020 and to 1146 (5.49 per 100 000) in 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, overdose mortality increased by 94.03% and from 2020 to 2021 by 20.05%.”

The same study states “In the overall population, numbers of overdose deaths were higher and rates increased steadily from 2010 (n = 38 329; 12.4 per 100 000) to 2020 (n = 91 799; 27.86 per 100 000) and 2021 (n = 101 954; 31.06 per 100 000). The percent change was 29.48% from 2019 to 2020 and 11.48% from 2020 to 2021.” 

To put it simply, using drugs, particularly opiates, is becoming more dangerous. More people are overdosing, although the rates of drug use are remaining similar. It can be concluded that drugs are now more dangerous. Why? This increase is attributed to an abundance of Fentanyl, a potent opiate, mixed with drugs or in counterfeit drugs, as well as use of opiates creeping up in comparison to other drugs.  

LA county is no different. 

According to the LA Times, “In 2020, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Gang and Narcotics Division seized about 117,000 fentanyl pills, Det. Art Stone said. That number ballooned to 858,000 pills in 2021. So far this year, nearly 3 million fentanyl pills have been seized, Stone said.”

Opioid Use in Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles Public Health Department regularly publishes statistics of drug use and abuse in the county, and the trends are reminiscent of the United States as a whole. For opioids (prescription pills like Oxycontin) the number of overdose deaths has steadily increased since 2010, even though the number of pills prescribed has gone down. This suggests people are becoming addicted, or the prevalence of the pills as a recreational drug is increasing. 

In addition, the total overdose deaths in Los Angeles County have also skyrocketed over the same time, mainly due to misuse of prescription drugs. While overdoses for heroin and other opioids have remained fairly steady, the vast majority of the increase in overdoses has risen nearly exponentially due to synthetic opioid overdoses like Fentanyl. 

In 2020, more than 2,000 people died from overdose in Los Angeles County, representing a more than 50 percent increase since the previous year. 

Opioid users often have secondary drug problems as well, with the largest secondary drug use consisting of methamphetamine, marajuana, other prescription drugs, and heroin, in descending order. 

To put this in plain English, drug use in LA county now carries more risk of overdose than 10 years ago by large margins. This is all the more reason to get sober. Fentanyl is a serious risk no matter what drugs people take, as other drugs can also commonly be laced with this powerful opiate. 

Other Drug Use In LA County

According to the US Health And Human Services Survey, nearly four percent of people in Los Angeles have used drugs other than marijuana in the past year. Due to methodology and reporting, it’s likely that number is more than double. 

According to a study from The Center From Substance Abuse Research, “Methamphetamine continues to be a major problem in Los Angeles County. Medical Examiner toxicology cases (2019): 40.3% tested positive for methamphetamine (n=1,285 of the total of 3,192 cases testing positive for drugs), an increase over n=1,126 in 2018.”

The breakdown of admissions to treatment programs across LA County, like ours at Transformations Care, is interesting as well. Percentage of people admitted for: 

  • Methamphetamine— 35 percent
  • Alcohol— 22 percent
  • Heroin— 21 percent
  • Marijauna— 10 percent
  • And prescription opioids— only 3.5 percent

This suggests that people who are abusing prescription opioids are not getting the care they need. This could be because of the demographics of who is using the drugs, a societal under-recognition of the problem, increased and acute danger associated with their use, or other factors. 

Get Help For Opioid Addiction In Los Angeles County And Other Drugs 

If you are looking for help with an opioid addiction or any other addiction to drugs, including alcohol, help is here at Transformations Care. We offer the best care for drug and alcohol addiction, and can help you or your loved one get back on the road to good health and sobriety. 

If you think you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, give us a call at (424) 339-0965 and we will be happy to discuss treatment options. Addiction is a treatable disease, and there is hope. 

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