What is the drug situation in California?
In November 2014, California became the first state to approve sweeping changes to its drug laws, making possession of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and other illicit drugs a misdemeanor instead of a felony. The state, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996, is expected to have a 2016 ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
During 2014, California had the 12th lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. However, the number of drug overdose deaths, a majority of which are from prescription drugs, has increased by 31 percent since 1999. A key finding in the Los Angeles area in 2013 (the most recent reporting year) was the continuing increase in methamphetamine indicators. In addition, there was local concern about the misuse of prescription opioids.
Quick Facts on Substance Abuse in California
- California has one of the lowest rates of mood-altering drug use in the United States. (Only Alaska and Wyoming have lower rates.) However, California’s emergency rooms have seen a six-fold increase in heroin poisoning cases among young adults over the last 10 years.
- The four primary substances accounting for the largest percentages of primary drug treatment center admissions in Los Angeles County were marijuana (27 percent), alcohol (22 percent), heroin (20 percent) and methamphetamine (19 percent).
- The most notable drug issue in San Diego County is the continued drug trafficking along its border with Mexico. As U.S. border security has heightened on land, Mexican drug cartels have turned to ultralight aircraft, small fishing boats and tunnels to move their goods into the country.
- Methamphetamine typically crosses into California from Mexico, heads to San Diego and Los Angeles, then moves east or continues north to San Francisco for transport across the Midwest.
- California has experienced a rise in new and dangerous forms of crystal meth, ranking as No. 1 in Google searches for the illicit stimulant. The latest survey of people incarcerated in San Diego county jails suggests meth use is increasing to levels not seen since 2006.
- In the first half of 2013, heroin indicators appeared to be trending upwards in San Diego. The proportion of primary heroin treatment admissions increased from 22 percent in the first half of 2012 (1,569 admissions) to 24 percent in the first half of 2013 (2,004 admittances).
- Forty-three percent of primary alcohol admissions in San Diego cited no secondary drug of abuse. Marijuana was the secondary drug in 26.0 percent of cases, followed by methamphetamine (17.8 percent) and cocaine/crack (6.8 percent).
- Although slightly lower than in the previous year, alcohol admissions continued to dominate Bay Area substance abuse treatment admissions, particularly among males older than 35. Heroin increased slightly to surpass cocaine and rank as the second primary drug at admission, followed in order by cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
- When health officials in Santa Clara County (home of Silicon Valley) recently looked into the drugs of choice of women 20 to 30 years old who were accepted for outpatient addiction treatment, they found that 57 percent named methamphetamine.
- An Adderall-like drug class called nootropics – which increase productivity and focus but aren’t as intense as prescription psychostimulants – has taken off among a certain Silicon Valley set.
- The Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) is a significant area for illegal cannabis cultivation operations, an increasing number of which are conducted under the umbrella of the state’s medical marijuana law.
- Methamphetamine trafficking and abuse are pervasive, rendering meth the greatest drug threat to the Central Valley. Despite declining laboratory seizures, the area remains a primary domestic meth production and supply area.
- Considered an epidemic in much of the Midwest and eastern United States, heroin abuse is dramatically increasing in the Central Valley. In 2012, 4,952 subjects were admitted to heroin abuse treatment programs in the 12 HIDTA counties. That number grew to 8,084 in 2014, an increase of more than 63% in only three years.
Find Drug addiction treatment in California
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